Definition of emollient in US English:



  • 1Having the quality of softening or soothing the skin.

    ‘an emollient cream’
    • ‘Avoid soap, which can be drying, and instead wash with aqueous cream or an emollient wash.’
    • ‘Try either of these creams, which are both emollient treatments providing relief from nappy rash without the use of preservatives and steroids that can weaken a baby's soft, delicate skin.’
    • ‘A deliciously rich source of moisture extracted from the fruit of the Karite tree, shea butter is a natural fat that is often used as an emollient base for a variety of hair and skin products.’
    • ‘To minimize irritation from shaving, use a new blade and an emollient shave cream that contains moisturizing ingredients.’
    • ‘If you have really dry skin, says Rogers, ‘use emollient lotions with humectants such as urea lactate, then apply moisturizing cream to seal in moisture.’’
    • ‘There are several tar based shampoos and emollient preparations that you can buy over - the - counter.’
    • ‘The emollient creams make the top layers of skin seem moister for a short time, but the other ingredients are actually drying the skin so you have to use more of the lotion, etc.’
    • ‘Almond oil is used as an emollient because of its ability to soften the skin.’
    • ‘A range of shampoos, emollient products and some topical steroid preparations can be bought from pharmacies.’
    • ‘The most likely irritant in emollient creams is the stabiliser propylene glycol.’
    • ‘The steroid should always be applied to the skin first and the emollient moisturizer applied after to all of the skin.’
    • ‘Very occasionally, emollient creams may sting the skin when first applied to very dry skin.’
    • ‘It is an incredibly emollient skin-shielding cream - perfect for preventing chapped skin.’
    • ‘In addition to this, liberal use of emollient creams such as aqueous cream is important - at least four times a day, more if possible.’
    • ‘Sebaceous glands secrete sebum, and in skin they are thought to have bacteriostatic, emollient, and barrier functions in humans.’
    moisturizing, palliative, balsamic
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    1. 1.1 Attempting to avoid confrontation or anger; soothing or calming.
      ‘the president's emollient approach to differences’
      • ‘It gets Andrew a new editor and the group a much more emollient senior manager who can lift morale.’
      • ‘By and large, this approach has proved useful and even emollient.’
      • ‘When I talked about security, he gave me an emollient smile and said: ‘I think you'll find it very safe.’’
      • ‘He subsequently traveled to The Hague to make more emollient, if less publicized, remarks.’
      • ‘He surely must have noticed it but, as the writer suggests, he was probably an emollient sort of character, a man never happy about getting into rows.’
      • ‘True, as we said from the start, the minister's emollient words in January had to be set to one side to ensure a seriously flawed and dangerous bill was radically restructured.’
      • ‘What he gets is the poignant, emollient presence of Connelly who looks soulfully at him.’
      • ‘One diplomat said the anti-war camp in fact raised no objections to his proposal last week partly out of deference to his more emollient tone on their plans for European Union defence.’
      • ‘Even the emollient secretary of state, is bitter: he believes they have double-crossed him in the UN Security Council.’
      • ‘In truth, the party will remain unelectable until it learns how to conduct a conversation with the country, employing a more emollient vocabulary…’
      • ‘The noble Lord's emollient talents were therefore deployed to save the stalled bill by cutting a deal with the Tory leader in the lords.’
      • ‘The bombings and attempted bombings in London have brought home to the American public that we face implacable enemies unwilling to be appeased by even the most emollient diplomacy.’
      • ‘At the local carabinieri station, an officer was more emollient: ‘By the end of the month everything should be resolved.’’
      • ‘He found the French in surprisingly emollient mood.’
      • ‘They'll spout a lot of emollient guff and sensible criticism of the government, which you can even find yourself nodding along to when they're on Question Time.’
      • ‘While adopting the emollient tones of compassionate Conservatism, he has also toned down the virulent anti-Europeanism.’
      conciliatory, conciliating, appeasing, soothing, calming, pacifying, assuaging, placating, mollifying, relaxing, propitiatory
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  • A preparation that softens the skin.

    ‘formulated with rich emollients’
    • ‘When added in proper concentrations, cetyl or stearyl alcohol may also be incorporated in skin cleansing products as emollients.’
    • ‘Choose a moisturiser that contains emollients or hyaluronic acid, a natural substance which helps the body's cells retain moisture.’
    • ‘Keeping areas moisturized with topical emollients or urea can be beneficial.’
    • ‘These cleansers have more emollients, which help the skin retain moisture.’
    • ‘However, water followed by the application of oil such as a moisturizer (also known as an emollient or lubricant) is of great benefit for dry skin.’
    • ‘A major disadvantage of alcohols is their drying effect, although some newer preparations contain emollients to minimize skin drying.’
    • ‘Using lotions or emollients as soap substitutes may be helpful.’
    • ‘Keeping the skin moisturised between attacks, and including the use of emollients in daily routines can also control eczema.’
    • ‘The use of skin emollients or barrier creams to prevent contact dermatitis is receiving new attention.’
    • ‘For great results, use rich emollients or more body oils in addition to moisturizer; they'll offer long lasting, soothing and softening effects for your feet.’
    • ‘You must have tried the standard treatment with emollients, which soften the skin and increase its water content.’
    • ‘Shaving creams are made up of oils and emollients that help glide the blade across the skin reducing pain and incidents of cutting.’
    • ‘Use emollients even when the skin feels better.’
    • ‘Also, look for finishing creams with emollients and serums that soften the hair cuticle.’
    • ‘Recurrence of this benign but often malodorous condition is prevented by skin care with emollients.’
    • ‘Another less well-known ingredient that acts as an emollient and humectant is sorbitol, a sugar-like crystalline derived from certain fruits, such as apples, pears and cherries.’
    • ‘His advice to fellow sufferers: be meticulous about applying emollients on newly washed skin that is still slightly damp.’
    • ‘Commonly used in moisturizers, emollients lubricate the skin and give the cosmetic product a smooth, soft feeling.’
    • ‘Other important prevention strategies include proper hygiene and liberal use of emollients to reduce drying and cracking of the skin.’
    • ‘Some manufacturers have added emollients to their skin cleansers to enhance washing and rinsing activity and to condition skin.’
    moisturizer, cream, oil, ointment, rub, lotion, salve, unguent, balsam
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Mid 17th century: from Latin emollient- ‘making soft’, from the verb emollire, from e- (variant of ex- ‘out’) + mollis ‘soft’.