Answer: I know I am a ” Debbie Downer” when it comes to moisturizers, but my recommendations are based on strong science. Adequate water levels are essential for healthy soft skin. How skin stays hydrated is complex, but the first line of control is the oil we naturally produce. This oil forms a film that acts like plastic wrap on a sandwich to prevent water evaporation from the skin. If you produce enough oil to be bothered by breakouts, you don’t need additional moisturizer to maintain healthy water levels In fact, using moisturizers on oily or acne troubled skin is just asking for problems. The oil and waxes in traditional moisturizers will clog pores and trigger breakouts.
But wait, there’s more. The unnecessary moisturizers collect dead skin cells on the surface, making the complexion look dull and muddy. No only does this take away natural radiance, the top layer slows down healthy cell growth.
Acne and Moisturizers Don’t Mix
Many of the moisturizer questions come from people dealing with acne treatments. The standard acne protocols call for benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and /or Retin A which all clear off old dead skin cells that are clogging pores. Some degree of dryness, peeling and flaking is part of acne management– and using a moisturizer will undo the benefits. If the skin becomes too dry and irritated, modify the daily routine. For example, if you are using a salicylic acid cleanser , switch to a milder wash like Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser. In addition you can cut back from every day use of treatment products, to using it just 3-4X/week.
I have the same lack of enthusiasm for oil-free moisturizers. While they are not greasy, they may contain chemicals that provoke breakouts. These acne triggers include shea butter, silicones, paraffin, avobenzone and sodium lauryl sulfate.
However if you are using Retin A for its anti-aging properties, the resulting dryness does call for a moisturizer. Retin A not only slows down oil glands and speeds up skin cell turnover, it lowers ceramide levels. This natural lubricant holds skin cells together and tends to decline as we get older– and Retin A increases this loss. For best results, I recommend a moisturizer that contain both ceramides and hyaluronic acid rather than a formulation based solely on oils.
When Moisturizers Are Truly Needed
While I am concerned about the misuse of moisturizers in oily and acne prone skin, they definately have a place for true dry skin. If your skin is tight and flaky after washing you may well need moisturizer. Care of this beautiful but often fragile skin starts with the right cleanser– which will be covered in Moisturizers, Part 2.