The Supermarket Moisturizer Shootout.

I have lately become an explorer of
lotions-and-potions shelves in the supermarket. Creams, body oils, spray-on
moisturizers, lotions with vitamins, herbs, beads, lotions that whiten, tighten,
heal, kill bacteria… all within a price range that does not induce extreme
guilt upon purchase. You can’t find a brand-name moisturizer in a department
store for less than five hundred pesos. Usually they hover in the thousand and
up range.

Quick refresher. There are two
kinds of moisturizers, generally: humectants and emollients. Humectants attract
moisture from the air and draw this to the skin. Emollients prevent moisture
from escaping the skin. Lactic acid and glycerin are humectants. Oils are

Most supermarket lotions are
basic emulsions (oil-water) with some kind of silicone derivative to improve
spreadability and to reduce the “greasy feel.” I doubt if the vitamins, herbs
and other eye-catching ingredients listed on the labels are present in any
sufficient quantity to actually be effective. But the principle of attracting
moisture and preventing it from leaving remains – and at the very least, that’s
what I want my lotion to do well.

factors, such as fragrance, how quickly the lotion “disappears” into the skin
and how moisturized my skin feels the next day have also been considered in this
list – my top ten supermarket moisturizers, not in any order. All guaranteed
less than 200 bucks, and a couple below a hundred, even. Go shopping.

1. Jergens Ultra Healing
(fragrance-free) – a cheap treat for those with dry, sensitive skin. Gets rids
of the “scalies” on your legs with a powerfully emollient formula. Best used
when skin is still a little damp from the shower – it spreads more easily, and
because it’s primarily emollient, you’re actually giving it some more moisture
to keep close to your skin. A little goes a long

2. Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Lotion – faintly
fragranced with the classic J&J baby powder scent, with a little
lavender-floral combination added. It probably won’t be your favorite if you
have really dry skin, but the fragrance is truly

3. St. Ives Collagen & Elastin –
it has an almost medicinal scent that fades away quickly. This is a rich,
emollient formula that takes some time to sink into the skin, but is really
worth the wait. Try it on rougher patches of skin, like frequently-shaved legs,
elbows and knees. You can also slather it on at night and wake up with truly
softer skin.

4. Nivea Body & Soul Skin Oil
– Warning: this is mostly liquid paraffin, i.e. mineral oil, so if you’re not
into the whole aromatherapy thing you can get by with J&J baby oil for less
than half the price. What makes this product worth more than a hundred bucks?
The fragrance.

5. Neutrogena Sesame Oil – a
classic dry oil that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re about to be broiled.
Tip – decant into a spray bottle so you don’t overapply. Like all body oils,
this one is best used right after you pat (not rub!) your skin dry with a towel
after bathing.

6. Nivea Soft – the plastic jar
could use a little work, but what’s inside is magic. A simple emollient with the
signature Nivea scent, this works hard and keeps your hands soft even after you
wash them! Amazing little product, really. It should have more fans. A lot
better than the Nivea creme in the blue tin, especially in the Philippine
tropical climate.

7. Jergens Skin
Smoothing/Skin Firming Lotion – it’s a tie. 😉 The skin smoothing version has
soy protein, the same hair-growth inhibiting ingredient found in higher-end
products like Aveeno. It vanishes into the skin with minimal rubbing and doesn’t
sting after shaving. The skin firming lotion has the same non-greasy feel with
(in my opinion) a little more emolliency.

Nutraplus (with urea) – This is by Galderma, the same company that makes
Cetaphil and Ionax. More expensive than the others in this list, but still a
good value-for-money buy. Urea is a humectant and is a common ingredient in
dermatologist-formulated moisturizers.

9. St.
Ives Whipped Silk – The spout’s star-shaped opening means the lotion comes out
like cake icing. Aside from that little bit of fun, this formula sinks rapidly
into the skin, is only lightly fragranced and is definitely not greasy.

10. Grapeseed oil – You go to the cooking oil
shelf for this one. 😉 Grapeseed oil is a light oil usually favored for salad
dressings. It is actually a much-used cosmetic ingredient, especially in body
and massage oils. If you can find it cold-pressed, so much the better.
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is also wonderful, but you might not want to
smell like Italian food. Grapeseed oil doesn’t smell of anything, and is a super
emollient, best used while your skin is still damp. If you’re wary of petroleum
byproducts, such as the mineral oil base in J&J, and petroleum jelly, use
this instead. Decant into a pretty bottle so people don’t wonder why you have
salad oil in the bathroom. A plus: add it to a cup of brown sugar (you know
which shelf to go for that), enough to make a rough paste, and you have your
very own sugar scrub. For added lightening/exfoliating, squeeze in the juice of
half a lemon, or 3 calamansis.