What Emollients Are And How to Use Them

Emollients protect and soften flaky, dry, or rough skin. Some create a film to keep water and moisture within the skin, functioning as a moisturizer or a substitute for moisturizers. Using emollients correctly is vital for them to protect the skin effectively. They are composed of various ingredients like oils and urea, which have soothing effects on the skin. These ingredients also aid in hydration, especially during or after showering.

What is An Emollient?

An emollient is a substance that soothes and softens dry, rough, and flaky skin, resulting in a more pleasant appearance and texture. When the outermost layer of skin lacks adequate moisture, it becomes dehydrated, leading to cracking and flaking. 

This creates gaps between skin cells that emollients fill with lipids, resulting in smoother and softer skin. Emollients with high oil content serve as occlusive agents by forming a protective layer on your skin that traps moisture within. 

By doing so, they promote longer-lasting hydration, thus keeping your skin supple and nourished. While there may be some confusion among consumers, it is important to note that emollients and moisturizers are not the same. Emollients constitute one component of a moisturizer, whereas other ingredients are responsible for hydrating the skin. Ultimately, emollients serve the critical function of maintaining skin’s soft and supple texture.

Types of Emollients

Selecting the most suitable emollient for your skin condition hinges on several factors, such as the severity and underlying cause of the condition, the affected area of the body, and your personal preferences. You might want to experiment with different types of emollients until you discover the one that meets your satisfaction. You might also need to consider using different emollients at different periods of the day or year since your skin’s moisture levels vary depending on certain factors.

Emollients can be categorized based on their level of oily or greasy composition. While all emollients aid in hydrating and soothing the skin, their ability to create a barrier against moisture loss varies based on their oil content. The higher an emollient’s oil content, the more effective it is at forming a protective layer on the skin to lock in moisture. The different types of emollients are:

  • Ointments: Typically the most oily and very greasy, ointments are very thick to help prevent your skin from losing moisture. They don’t have to be reapplied very often as they take some time to absorb.
  • Creams: Creams have a balance of oil and water, making them easy to spread on your skin. They have enough oil to trap moisture in your skin but are much less messy than ointments.
  • Lotions: Lotions contain more water than oil, making them the least moisturizing of the three kinds of emollients. However, this also means that they are the fastest at absorbing into the skin.

Examples of What Emollients Are

Emollients, from ointments to moisturizers, are treatments used to soothe and hydrate the skin. They work by covering the skin with a protective layer to retain moisture. Various emollients, including lotions, creams, sprays, and foams, are designed for specific skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and skin inflammation. Lotions are suitable for hairy areas, while oil-based emollients like Cutemol Emollient Cream, containing natural beeswax, are good for cracked skin and damaged cuticles. Sprays, offering quick absorption, are ideal for hard-to-reach or infected areas.

Emollient creams are effective in treating dry skin conditions. Many emollient products, like Cutemol Emollient Dry Skin Cream, lock in moisture with a unique water-in-oil formulation.

They prevent the skin from drying out further and restore the skin’s natural barrier function. Oil-based emollients form a protective film on the skin, locking in moisture and keeping the skin supple and soft. Some emollient creams, such as Cutemol Emollient Dry Skin Cream, are leave-on products, maximizing benefits, while others are quickly absorbed into the skin.

How Emollients Protect the Skin

Cold weather, frequent handwashing, and exposure to irritants like alcohol in hand sanitisers or fragranced soaps can damage the skin. Emollients fill the dry spaces in the skin with lipids, making it smoother. In products like Cutemol Emollient Cream, beeswax locks in moisture and is beneficial after handwashing. Fragrance-free natural products reduce the risk of further skin irritation.

Using emollients also provides an anti-microbial barrier in babies and helps maintain skin integrity, preventing problems such as eczema. It protects against infection by creating a protective barrier across the skin.

Benefits of an Emollient

Dry, irritated skin is a common affliction, particularly in cold, dry conditions. Frequent hand-washing or exposure to harsh chemicals can also cause dryness. Fortunately, emollients offer a potent remedy for all forms of dry skin, effectively soothing and healing any underlying cause. 

Emollients are effective for treating several conditions, including eczema and psoriasis. Dry, itchy, irritated, and cracked skin can cause discomfort regardless of the underlying cause. Furthermore, scratching or cracking can result in bleeding or infection. Emollients can effectively manage symptoms, promote healing, and restore skin health.

Emollients, used regularly, are effective at healing dry and flaky skin. They improve cracks in the skin, preventing water loss and further damage. Emollients can treat a range of conditions, including eczema, diabetes, and hypothyroidism, and are also effective on diaper rash.

In addition to these benefits, emollients are crucial in maintaining the skin’s overall health and appearance. Replenishing essential oils and moisture helps maintain the skin’s elasticity and suppleness, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This makes them an integral part of anti-ageing skincare routines. For sensitive skin, emollients free from fragrances, preservatives, and other potential irritants can offer a soothing remedy, minimizing redness and irritation.

Emollients can act as a barrier against environmental factors such as pollution and harsh weather conditions, which can further dry out and damage the skin. This protective layer helps to shield the skin from these external elements, reducing the likelihood of flare-ups in conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

In more severe skin conditions, emollients can be combined with other treatments. For instance, when used alongside topical steroids in conditions like eczema, emollients can enhance the efficacy of these treatments by keeping the skin well-hydrated and more receptive to medication. However, it’s important to note that emollients should be applied at different times than other topical treatments to avoid diluting their effect.

For those prone to acne, choosing non-comedogenic emollients that don’t block pores is essential, thereby preventing the formation of acne lesions. Additionally, for individuals who frequently wash their hands or shower, using emollients immediately afterwards can help restore the skin’s natural moisture balance, mitigating the drying effects of water and soap.

In children, especially those with conditions like diaper rash, emollients can provide gentle, effective relief. They not only soothe the skin but also create a protective layer that helps prevent further irritation from diapers. Paediatricians often recommend emollients as a first line of defence for many common childhood skin issues.

Choosing the Correct Emollient

Selecting the right emollient depends on factors like the body part affected, the skin’s dryness level, allergies, and the specific skin problem. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products reduce the risk of irritation. Consulting with doctors and pharmacists is crucial to choose the right emollient.

Where Emollients Should be Used

Emollients effectively treat conditions like eczema, psoriasis, ichthyosis, contact dermatitis, and dry flaky skin from handwashing. They also help prevent skin breakdown in chronic conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism.

How to Use Emollients

It’s important to prevent skin problems by maintaining good handwashing techniques and using minimal fragranced soap. Emollients should be applied throughout the day, not just after handwashing, and at the first sign of dry skin. Summers Laboratories products are effective at controlling dry skin.

Emollients should be applied to clean dry skin smoothed in the direction of hair growth to avoid blocking hair follicles. Using an emollient during the day and an ointment at night can be beneficial. Applying an emollient before activities that cause skin flaking, like swimming or gardening, helps protect the skin.

If using a steroid cream or other topical medication, apply the emollient at least 30 minutes before these treatments to ensure effectiveness and prevent inadvertent spreading.

Safety issues with emollients include using a clean spatula to avoid cross-contamination, avoiding the use of naked flames or cigarettes, and being cautious in showers or baths to prevent slipping. Clean the tub afterwards to avoid buildup.

Emollients are highly effective at treating dry and flaky skin conditions. Applying them properly and caring for your skin, you can avoid problems and stay healthy. For proper skin care, shop our Cutemol Emollient Cream or Cutemol Sensitive Emollient Cream today.

Additional Considerations

Always review the ingredients for potential allergens. Patients with sensitive skin might require special emollients, often recommended by a dermatologist or pharmacist. In some cases, prescription emollients might be necessary.

It’s also important to consider the role of diet, other drugs, and overall health conditions, like flu or type 2 diabetes, in skin health. Seek professional advice for personalized recommendations, and ensure to incorporate emollients as part of a comprehensive skin care routine, tailored to your specific needs.

Summers Laboratories Is The Answer

No matter what kind of emollient you’re looking for, Summers Laboratories offers a wide selection of emollient products to suit all of your unique needs. Whether you have dry, itchy skin or suffer from eczema and psoriasis, our range of ointments, creams, and lotions will provide you with the relief you need while nourishing and protecting your skin. With Summers Laboratories’ emollients, you’ll be able to keep your skin moisturized without worrying about any harsh chemicals or additives. So if you’re ready to make an investment in better skincare today, head over to Summers Laboratories now!


In conclusion, emollients are essential in skincare, especially for treating and managing flaky, dry, or rough skin. Their ability to create a protective film helps retain moisture and hydration, effectively substituting traditional moisturizers. The correct application of emollients is crucial to harness their full potential. Their composition, which includes oils and urea, soothes the skin and ensures optimal hydration. This is particularly beneficial during or after showering when the skin is most receptive to moisture. Therefore, incorporating emollients into a regular skincare routine can significantly improve skin health and texture.


  • Michael Reed

    Michael Reed is a medical writer at Sumlab, focusing on dermatological studies and treatments. His articles help demystify complex clinical results for a broad audience.

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