Perhaps. ‘You don’t actually need a moisturizer’ says Dr SK Tan, founder of IDS Clinic. For those of you obsessed with hydrating your skin, you are in for a myth-busting ride! Read on to find out who needs a moisturizer.
What are moisturizers and what do they do?
Our family, friends and every beauty brand have been telling us how important moisturizers are in delivering moisture into the skin – the key to youthful looking skin. However, the medical aesthetics pioneer has something else to say about that.
“Water (or moisture) does not penetrate the skin,” Dr Tan tells us. “Otherwise, every time you take a shower, you will be water-logged. What moisturizers do is form a protective shield or barrier on the surface of the skin to prevent water loss. If you want skin to feel good, apply moisturizer on the skin that is still a little wet after a shower. This way, the water is trapped under the layer of moisturizer. But the water will stay on the outer layer and that’s about it. It doesn’t go into the dermis.”
Don’t we need moisturization to ward off wrinkles?
“Moisturizing will not prevent wrinkles. Wrinkles are caused by loss of collagen and damage to elastic tissue, and damage from UV rays” adds Dr Tan. Moisturizers often contain occlusive ingredients like butters and oils, and they are that which leave your skin feeling smooth and good – they do not penetrate deep enough to repair loss of collagen.
Will eating and drinking collagen help with wrinkle reduction then?
“Consuming collagen doesn’t work. When you take oral collagen, it’s digested as tiny bits, and your body has to fit all these bits together to form collagen again. It’s like putting a camera through a blender and then trying to fit it back together. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get a camera, you know? The only way to get collagen is to get the body to produce it. You need to stimulate your cells to produce collagen. Topical Vitamin A (think Retinol and Retin-A) does this as well as some peptides. Retin-A works well, but may over long periods cause skin sensitivity. So doctors have to be smart enough to combine Vitamin A with other things to prevent skin irritation,” Dr Tan explains.
Do those with oily skin need to keep skin moisturized to prevent acne?
“The simple answer to that is ‘No’ because people with oily skin do not suffer from the skin problems that require moisturization. The truth is that oil-gland activity is influenced by hormones and other factors within the body, and is active regardless of whether the skin is dehydrated or not. In other words, dryness in the skin does not make the oil glands produce more oil, and vice versa! Acne occurs due to overproduction of sebum and not due to the moisture level in the skin,” Dr Tan asserts.
So who needs a moisturizer?
The only group of people who need moisturizers are those with mature skin, a medical condition such as eczema, or increased Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) from skin damage. But those who are not from the above categories are considered to have “normal” skin and that means your skin is able to moisturize itself within the layers of the skin. However, that said, the outer layer of the skin is still susceptible to sun exposure, air and environmental pollutants.
Under what conditions should we actually use moisturizers?
“Moisturizers can be used anytime you feel your skin is dry, whether it is after a laser program or some other form of treatment, or when it has experienced environmental changes. Extremely cold or dry climates or long-haul air travel are all good examples” advises Dr Tan.
However, we understand that it will be difficult to break out of years of this beauty habit or ritual. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re too tired to perform the whole skincare shebang – it’s ok to skip this one step. Just ensure that you have a very good serum to treat or nourish your skin.
In a nutshell, the main function of a moisturizer is to minimize Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) which is continuously occurring. Reducing TEWL is especially necessary for those who suffer from skin disorders. Normal skin need not apply!
* Some of Dr Tan’s quotes first appeared in April 2014 8Days.
Dr SK Tan