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Moisturizing your skin

While all skin needs moisture to stay healthy, those with dry skin will usually require heavier products. The higher a product's oil-to-water ratio, the better it will moisturize. Petroleum jelly is generally considered the most effective moisturizer. However, its greasy consistency makes it impractical to use on a regular basis.

Typically, petroleum jelly is worn only at night and may be covered with old cotton gloves or clothing to prevent staining of bed linens. Ointments also work well, but like petroleum jelly, are oil-based and messy. Next in line are moisturizing creams, a heavy product with more oil than water, but less greasy than ointments.

For general use, lotions are the most common choice. Lotions have more water than oil, so they're absorbed more quickly. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you'll want to use an oil-free moisturizer in those areas. Oil-free moisturizers are water-based and may be labeled as non-acnegenic (ak-nee-JIHN-ihk) or non-comedogenic (coh-mee-doh-JIHN-ihk).

To get the most benefit from any moisturizer, apply it after washing, while your skin is still damp. Normal skin typically needs moisture once a day. Extremely dry skin should be treated with an emollient at least three times a day.