To moisturize or not to moisturize? That is the question.
Lately, there’s been an ongoing debate on whether moisturizers are actually beneficial or just a waste of money. Until recently, nobody has really questioned the need for moisturizers and come to think of it, a jar of face cream is probably the first skincare item we’ve owned as teenagers. Moisturizing your face used to be a no-brainer but now skincare junkies are beginning to have doubts.
Some are saying that the effects of moisturizers are just superficial and is not really addressing the root of the problem. While others are adamant that they’re essential to maintaining healthy skin. The beauty community has never been this divided. So do you really need to moisturize? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as a yes or no. Here’s what you should know.
Dry skin is not the same as dehydrated skin
We often categorize our complexion into three main types: oily, dry and normal. So what’s dehydrated skin and how is it different from having dry skin? The easiest way to differentiate the two is to think of dehydrated skin as mere temporary condition and dry skin as a trait. You can be genetically predisposed to have dry skin and produce very little oil which makes you prone to flaking. On the other hand, dehydrated skin is a result of certain actions and other environmental factors. Usually, the tell-tale signs of dehydrated skin are increased sebum production, feeling of tightness and dull complexion. It’s important to know the difference so you can determine which is the best course of action you should take.
Dehydrated skin may be caused by a damaged skin barrier
As the name itself suggests, dehydrated skin lacks hydration. And more often than not, it all boils down to increased Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL). It means that because your natural barrier is weakened, the skin is having a hard time holding on to water to keep itself hydrated. To compromise, the skin produces more oil which can lead to acne. Yikes!
Occlusive moisturizers are great for locking in hydration
So what are occlusive moisturizers? These are the ones that prevents TEWL from happening by acting like a cover to seal in the serum and other hydrating ingredients. This ensures that other skincare products with lighter molecules penetrate the skin and won’t just evaporate.
If you’ve determined that you indeed have dehydrated skin, the first thing you should do is to evaluate your current skincare habits. Get rid of astringents and harsh scrubs, and instead opt for gentle cleansing formulas. You may also need to tone down your use of AHA/BHA products to once a week.
The next step is to repair your skin barrier by applying skin-identical ingredients such as lipids and humectants like niacinamide, squalene and hyaluronic acid. Lastly, prevent water loss by using occlusive moisturizers. The most effective ones are those with nourishing butter like shea but of course, for comfort, a lightweight, occlusive moisturizer with silicones like dimethicone is a better option.
Dry skin can benefit from light-textured moisturizers
The main argument against moisturizers is that it doesn’t really do anything aside from temporarily smoothening out flaky skin. While that may be true, it’s not a reason to banish moisturizers from your routine. Aside from controlling TEWL, light-textured moisturizers enriched with moisture-replenishing properties can also give comfort and smoothen the complexion so that makeup can sit well on the skin. The only problem is when we start to just rely on moisturizers and forget to address the underlying concern.
Listen to your skin
The answer to whether you should moisturize or not largely depends on what your skin condition is telling you. As previously mentioned, if you have dehydrated and/or dry skin certain moisturizers can help. In general, facial creams loaded with moisturizing ingredients that can provide comfort and help with flakiness best suit those with dry skin.
On the other hand, someone with oily skin should be wary about rich creams that may clog pores and that’s why lightweight gel creams would be the most compatible for this skin type. Those with combination skin can also use gel creams but should remember to do some spot treatments for their dry areas.
However, if you think that your skin has a healthy skin barrier and already feels fine with just the help of a few serums and acids then you can skip it. After all, it’s about what your skin needs.