Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/6/2021
Your skin stays with you for your entire life, making it important to give it the support and care it needs to look and function at its very best.
From dry skin to wrinkles, dark spots and sallowness, a good quality facial lotion or moisturizer can combat many of the common signs of aging that develop on your skin as you get into your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
When it comes to face lotions — and skin care in general — you’ll get the best results by looking for science-based, proven ingredients than by relying on brand names.
Below, we’ve explained why using a facial lotion is an important part of addressing your skin concern.
We’ve also listed exactly what you should look for in a good quality lotion, from key ingredients to features like sun protection, skin type compatibility and more.
First off, why is facial lotion important? If you’re used to washing your face with soap and water, adding an additional item to your skin care routine might not seem totally necessary.
The reality is that a good quality moisturizer or lotion can have a real, noticeable impact on how your skin looks and feels, as well as how it protects itself from potential damage.
Facial moisturizers and lotions, which share a lot of ingredients, work by holding moisture inside your skin.
Because the base layers of your skin consist of 75 percent to 85 percent water, this increase in moisture level adds volume that makes wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of aging less visible.
It also helps lower your risk of developing dry skin — a common, age-related issue that makes skin feel rough and scaly.
Increasing your skin’s ability to hold moisture not only improves its appearance — it also helps improve barrier function. This allows your skin to more effectively prevent bacteria, fungi and other pathogens from causing infections and damage.
Beyond minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and protecting your skin’s barrier function, many facial lotions and moisturizers contain ingredients that slow down or even reverse the effects of aging on your skin.
Some of these ingredients work by stimulating the production of collagen, a protein that makes up your skin’s structure, while others remove the dead cells that can build up on skin and result in an aged, worn appearance.
We’ve shared these ingredients and provided more detailed information about how they work in the section below.
When it comes to facial lotions in the fight to find your skin solution, it’s much more important to look for effective ingredients than to shop based on a product’s brand name or price tag.
There are two little secrets when it comes to anti-aging skin care. The first is that many of those expensive-sounding ingredients you can find in high-end skin care products aren’t proven to do much of anything.
The second is that the ingredients that are backed up by science are often surprisingly cheap to access, often in products that are readily available online or from your local drug store.
When you’re comparing facial lotions, be on the lookout for the following proven, science-based ingredients.
Hyaluronic acid is an extremely popular skin care ingredient, and for good reason. It’s a natural substance that’s found throughout the body, with a 155 pound person containing approximately 15 grams of hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid is very hydrophilic, meaning it’s great at retaining water. In fact, it’s capable of holding as much as 1,000 times its weight in water.
Thanks to its water-holding capacity, products containing hyaluronic acid are great at reducing the visibility of wrinkles.
In a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in 2011, researchers tested a skin care formulation containing hyaluronic acid with a non-therapeutic vehicle cream.
After 60 days, the areas of skin treated with the hyaluronic acid formulation showed improved elasticity, hydration and lighter wrinkles.
You can find hyaluronic acid in many high quality facial lotions and moisturizers, including our Everyday Moisturizer for Men.
Our full guide to hyaluronic acid for skin care shares more research on hyaluronic acid’s many skin-related benefits, as well as how it can fit into your skin care and anti-aging routine.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are popular skincare ingredients that work by exfoliating, or peeling away, the dead cells that can accumulate on the surface of your skin over time as a result of skin cell turnover.
Common AHAs include citric acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid, while the most common BHA in skin care is salicylic acid.
These ingredients are used in more concentrated forms in chemical peel procedures provided by plastic surgeons and dermatologists. Some, such as salicylic acid, are also used to prevent acne breakouts.
AHAs and BHAs can cause dryness and irritation, meaning you’ll want to look for a lotion that uses a mild formula if you have sensitive skin.
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B, is a popular active ingredient in over-the-counter moisturizers, facial lotions and other anti-aging skin care products.
Research shows that niacinamide has a stabilizing effect on your skin’s barrier function, helping it to retain moisture and repel harmful pathogens. It also smoothes wrinkles and improves skin structure by promoting the production of important structural proteins, such as keratin.
An additional study found that niacinamide may improve your skin’s elasticity, a factor that may help to slow down the development of wrinkles and other signs of skin aging.
While most people associate caffeine with an early-morning energy boost, research shows that this versatile stimulant also has numerous skin care benefits.
Caffeine is an antioxidant that’s known to slow down the effects of photoaging (UV-related skin aging). It also increases blood circulation locally, which may help supply your skin with the nutrients it needs to maintain itself.
Our guide to using caffeine for healthier skin goes into more detail about the benefits of adding a lotion, facial moisturizer or other skin care products containing caffeine to your routine.
Vitamin C is involved in several essential processes in your body, including protein metabolism, immune function and the production of essential neurotransmitters.
Research has found that it also has plenty of benefits for your skin, including promoting wound healing, stimulating collagen synthesis and offering protection against sun damage that occurs when your skin is exposed to UV radiation.
Like niacinamide, you can find vitamin C serum or vitamin C in many facial creams, lotions, moisturizers and other topical skin care products sold over the counter.
Several other natural ingredients used in lotions and other skin care products have antioxidant properties that can protect your skin from damage, control inflammation and reduce the effects of aging.
For example, curcumin — a natural compound found in turmeric — has been shown to speed up wound healing and increase collagen levels in damaged skin.
Researchers have also found that green tea extract — a popular ingredient in moisturizers and other skin care products — can reduce skin roughness.
Other antioxidant-rich natural ingredients used in skin care include grape seeds, quercetin and aloe vera, all of which can be found in over-the-counter lotions, moisturizers, anti-aging creams and other skin care products.
Beyond specific ingredients, one of the most important qualities to look for in a facial lotion is a high degree of sun protection.
More than anything else, sun exposure can take a serious toll on your skin as you age. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, photoaging — the type of aging that’s caused by UV radiation — is responsible for 90 percent of the visible change in your skin as you get older.
Because UV radiation plays such a major role in the aging process, it’s important to either use sunscreen or choose a face lotion that provides protection against sunlight.
When you’re shopping for face lotion or moisturizer, check for products that are formulated for any skin type and offer SPF 30+ protection.
Like with other skin care products, choosing a face lotion can be a serious challenge. Use these tips to choose the right facial lotion for you and get the best results from it:
Choose a lotion that matches your skin type. Everyone’s skin is different. You’ll get the best results by choosing a facial lotion or moisturizer that’s designed with your skin type in mind.
If you have oily skin, choose an oil-free or non-comedogenic lotion that’s formulated to prevent clogged pores. On the other hand, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to choose a gentle formula that’s designed to prevent skin irritation or dryness.
And if you’re working on straight up acne-prone skin, there’re products specifically designed for that, too.
Apply lotion or moisturizer after washing your skin. Try to apply your face lotion or lightweight moisturizer within a few minutes of showering or washing your face. This helps trap moisture in your skin and keep it properly hydrated.
Wait several weeks before assessing your results. Lotions, moisturizers and other anti-aging products really work, but it may take several weeks before you can see any changes in your skin.
Make sure to keep applying your facial lotion consistently, even if you don’t experience any improvements right away.
If your skin is easily irritated, switch to a cream or ointment. These products usually aren’t as irritating as lotions and are often more effective at trapping moisture inside your skin.
If you have dry skin, look for products that contain hydrating oils such as jojoba oil, shea butter, glycerin, petroleum jelly, lanolin or hyaluronic acid.
Combine skin care products with good habits. Lotions and other skin care products work best when they’re combined with healthy, skin-friendly habits, such as eating well, cleaning your skin regularly and avoiding skin-damaging habits such as smoking.
Our guide to taking care of your skin shares effective habits that you can use to get the most from your skincare routine.
The right face lotion or daily moisturizer can have a huge impact on your skin’s health, texture, elasticity and appearance.
When you’re shopping for a facial lotion, look for science-based ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, hydroxy acids, caffeine, niacinamide, vitamin C and natural sources of antioxidants.
These ingredients are supported by real scientific research showing that they can improve your skin health, keep your skin hydrated and reduce wrinkles and other signs of skin aging.
Our range of men’s skin care products includes science-based, prescription-strength treatments that can prevent acne and slow down the effects of aging, including our Everyday Moisturizer for Men, Anti-Aging Cream and Goodnight Wrinkle Men's Night Cream.
You can find out more about caring for your skin in our full guide to anti-aging skin care routines for men.