What Is Conditioning Skincare?

Within the skincare world, the words ‘hydrating’, ‘nourishing’ and ‘moisturising’ are everywhere, but what is conditioning skincare? Read on to find out… 

What are skin conditioning ingredients?

Skin conditioning ingredients are substances that help to smooth and soften the skin. These ingredients can be:

  • humectants - ingredients that attract and retain water

  • emollients - ingredients that fill in gaps in the skin barrier

  • occlusives - ingredients that form a physical ‘film’ on the skin to prevent water loss

Products formulated with these types of ingredients have skin-softening properties and can therefore be referred to as conditioning skincare.

Want to learn more about emollients, occlusives and humectants? Head to the Skin Rocks App.

What are the benefits of using conditioning skincare?

Conditioning skincare products will not only help to soften and smooth your skin, but in doing so they can help to strengthen your skin barrier and maximise water retention, resulting in more hydrated, protected and healthy-looking skin. They can also help to make skin appear plumper and can help to offset any flaking and dryness. Everyone can benefit from using conditioning skincare products and should look to add these into their routine.

How can you identify conditioning skincare formulations?

Conditioning products will mainly be your moisturisers, but can also be serums and essences (those that are designed to target dehydration or dryness). Some cleansers have conditioning as a secondary benefit, but their main purpose is to offset any dryness which may result from cleansing the skin, rather than condition it. Look for products labelled as ‘moisturising’ or ‘hydrating’ and keep an eye out for some of the key ingredients below:

  • Squalane

  • Ceramides

  • Glycerin 

  • Hyaluronic acid

  • Silicones 

  • Peptides 

  • Lactic acid 

  • Tiger grass

What is the difference between ‘conditioning’ vs ‘nourishing’ or ‘moisturising’?

In the consumer-facing skincare industry, these types of ingredients are often described as ‘nourishing’, ‘moisturising’ or ‘hydrating’ (which they are), but within the formulation industry, the term ‘conditioning’ is often used. ‘Conditioning’ almost encompasses all three of these other terms. At Skin Rocks, we want to help you Think Science™, so we think it’s about time we gave conditioning skincare its time to shine.

Skin conditioning products we love:


Words by Ceyda Faik-Yildirim MSci (Chemistry) - Team Skin Rocks

All Think Science™ content published by Skin Rocks is researched, written, and peer-reviewed by our in-house, qualified scientists.


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