If you have oily or acne-prone skin, applying a moisturizer can be a very dreadful experience, causing your skin to become oily and clogging your pores and ultimately causing breakouts and acne. Even though you might feel a moisturizer will damage your skin, not using one is a bigger mistake for your skincare. The key here is to find out what moisturizer is better suitable for your skin type and your skincare needs. In this article, we will try to understand what is a moisturizer, why do you need to apply a moisturizer and how to go about choosing the right one for yourself.
What is a good Moisturizer?
A good moisturiser generally consists of at least three ingredients viz., a humectant, an emollient and an occlusive. A humectant is something that draws water from the environment into your skin and humectants like Hyaluronic acid are really good at holding water and can hold as much as 1000 times its weight. An emollient softens and smoothens dry, flaky and damaged skin, making it appear bouncy and occlusive is something that provides a physical barrier and prevents hydration and moisturization in the skin, from dissipating into the environment.
What are the benefits of using a Moisturizer?
The most important benefit of using a moisturizer is that it helps the skin barrier function and also helps avoid transepidermal water loss (TEWL), some of the other benefits of using a moisturizer regularly include
- Reduce the ageing of the skin, including wrinkles and fine lines on your face
- Improve skin complexion and brightens the skin tone
- Alleviate dry skin and flaky skin
- Avoid aggravating acne caused by the dryness
- Reduce the itchiness of the skin, caused by the damaged skin barrier
What is Skin Barrier Function?
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of our skin, which is also called as stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is also made up of different layers, including the dead skin layer which is stuck together with a glue-like substance produced from our sebaceous glands. What the skin barrier does is basically defend our skin from external aggressors like dust, bacteria, virus, toxins and also free radicals from pollution and also anything foreign which is not good for the health of our skin.
When our skin barrier is healthy, it acts as a defence, but when the skin barrier is compromised the skin is open for aggressors to enter into the deeper layers of the skin causing breakouts, inflammation and also speeding up the ageing process.
Itchy skin, scratchy, irritated skin or red skin are all signs of a damaged skin barrier.
What is TEWL
Transepidermal Water Loss as the name suggests is the loss of water from the deeper layers of the skin, once the skin loses its hydration, it causes our skin to become dry, flaky, sensitive, red and blotchy which is what also happens when we age. So essentially what a moisturizer does is to stop the transepidermal water loss and thus slowing down the ageing of our skin,
Moisturizer for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
Generally, people with oily and acne-prone skin types often struggle with moisturizers and tend to dislike using a moisturizer and are usually questioning if they really need a moisturizer at all and the short answer is yes. People with oily and acne-prone skin generally tend to cleanse more and exfoliate more often and also keep wiping the face causing a negative effect on the skin barrier and a moisturizer can really help repair the skin barrier and mitigate the damage caused by over-cleansing, exfoliation and wiping.
For oily skin, the important thing to watch out for, when you are looking for a moisturizer is that it doesn’t contain occlusive ingredients like petroleum jelly, waxes, silicones, dimethicones, lanolin and mineral oils. The occlusive ingredients tend to be pore blocking and can be heavy for oily and acne-prone skin. Instead, you can go for hydrating and moisturizing serums or a combination of humectants and emollients to use as a moisturizer and then apply a good sunscreen on top of that.
People with oily skin can also opt for moisturizers with ingredients that help balance and control sebum production in the skin, such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and retinol.
Moisturizer for Dry Skin
If your skin feels rough and tight in any weather or climate and if your skin is flaky and dull looking and you feel like you need to moisturizer your face as soon as you wash your face, then you definitely have dry skin. Dry skin is mostly caused by genetics and can be defined as a skin type that lacks natural oils and moisture. People with dry skin tend to produce less sebum compared to someone with normal skin and it is not the same as dehydrated skin, dehydrated skin is a skin condition that lacks water and dry skin is a skin type that lacks the necessary oils in the skin, that help moisturize and protect the skin and prevent the transepidermal water loss.
When you are looking for a moisturizer for dry skin, you are essentially looking for an ideal moisturizer that contains humectants like Glycerin, Hyaluronic acid, Aloe Vera and panthenol and emollients like Squalene, Jojoba oil or Vitamin E and occlusives like petroleum jelly, waxes, silicones, dimethicones, lanolin and mineral oils.
People with dry skin should opt for moisturizers that have a rich texture and have a thick and heavy consistency.
Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is a skin type when you react to skincare products very easily and get rashes, red skin because of the same. Sensitive skin people also have an itchy, burning sensation on their skin very frequently. If you have sensitive skin, then you should look for moisturizers with simple and fewer ingredients. Also, watch out for fragrances and AHA’s which can cause a severe reaction to your skin.
The right way to apply a moisturizer
When you visit the cosmetic counters, you are generally advised that you have to apply your moisturizer in a particular way that is only sweeping upwards and if you don’t it is going to increase ageing, but that is certainly not true, the most important thing when it comes to moisturiser is not the way you apply your moisturizer but to have right ingredients in your moisturizer.
To apply a moisturizer, you take a small amount of the product on your fingers and rub it between your hands and gently work it into the skin, making sure you are pressing firm enough so that the product is soaked up into the skin, it also important that you are not too harsh or abrasive while applying your moisturiser. If you are a person with oily skin, you can use patting for applying the moisturizer, which helps the moisturiser to properly absorb into the skin and avoid looking greasy.
You should also apply the moisturizer on your neck and upper chest area, which helps avoid the sagging of the skin as you age.
Moisturizer Mistakes You Should Avoid
The number one mistake when it comes to using a moisturizer is not using sun protection, 90% of our skin ageing happens due to sun exposure, so even if you apply a great moisturizer and give the sunscreen a miss, your skin is going to get damaged. So it is very important that you opt for a moisturizer that suits your skin type and apply it regularly.
Not using regularly
When it comes to skin hydration and moisturisation, consistency is the key to applying a moisturiser.
You are very young to use a moisturizer
You are never young enough to not use a moisturizer, moisturizer not only helps alleviate signs of ageing but also helps maintain youthful-looking bouncy skin.
You don’t need a moisturizer because your skin is oily
Even if you have oily skin, it can still be dehydrated and when you are cleansing too much or exfoliating your skin, it is stripping off its natural oils which in turn signals your skin to produce more sebum, so you need a moisturizer despite having oily skin. The key here is to find the moisturiser that is right for your skin type.
This article is medically reviewed by our expert dermatologist, Dr Nagakeerthana Sunder, M.D. DVL