A moisturizer is a product designed to moisturize skin. It does this by increasing its moisture levels and repairing its natural protective barrier. When that’s damaged, moisture evaporates out, leaving skin drier than the Sahara.
But… did you know your skin has its own in-built moisturizer? It’s called sebum. Yes that thing you hate because it can turn your face into a shiny frying pan.
It only happens when skin produces too much of it. When the opposite happens, skin dries out skin. You need to get the balance right.
For most people, the balance isn’t right – especially as you get older and your skin drier and drier.
But when your skin produces just the ideal amount of sebum, it naturally moisturizes on its own. No need to waste money on a moisturizer.
What does this mean for you? Do you need a moisturizer?
Does Everyone Need A Moisturizer?
It depends on your skin type:
Yes! If there’s a skin type that needs moisturizer, it’s you. Here’s why:
Dry skin lacks oil (a.k.a. sebum). Your skin literally doesn’t produce enough of it. Without it, your protective barrier has holes left, right, and center. Moisture evaporates through these cracks, leaving your skin all dry and flaky.
A moisturizer can fix it. The trick is to choose one high in oils and butters. They contain fatty acids, the moisturizing building blocks that heal your skin barrier and deeply moisturize your skin, leaving it soft and supple.
This is where it gets tricky. Your skin already produces more than enough sebum and has all the oil it needs. No need to add more.
But, your skin may be dehydrated (i.e. lack water). You know this is the case because you feel like you have a greasy layer on top of sandpaper. Your skin feels tight and dry, but it’s still as shiny as ever…
This is where an oil-free moisturizer comes in. Oil-free moisturizers use humectants, a group of ingredients that draws water from the air into the skin and binds it there. Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, and urea are all excellent humectants.
Humectants are great because they give oily skin all the moisture it craves without adding more oil to it. If you have oily skin,use them.
The exception? If your skin is severely oily and not dehydrated at all, you can skip moisturizer altogether. But if, at any point during the day, your skin feels a little tight, add your oil-free moisturizer back into your skincare routine.
Combination skin is a mixed bag. Some areas are a oil slick while others are dry and tight. What are you supposed to do?
Use a lightweight moisturizer. Preferably one with only a little amount of oil.
Your skin is already producing all the sebum it needs. Not a bit more. Not a bit less. You can still use a lightweight moisturizer if you want to, but you don’t need to. Your skin is fine without it.
Don’t Confuse Moisturizers With Anti-Aging Products!
Are you one of the lucky few who doesn’t need moisturizer, but want to use it anyway because it helps with anti-aging?
Think again. The vast majority of moisturizers out there “fight” wrinkles by hydrating skin. Moisture plumps up skin, so fine lines and wrinkles look smaller, but they’re still there.
If you want to really reduce those wrinkles (not just their appearance), you need retinol. You can get it in serum form.
Moisturizers are designed to improve skin’s moisture levels. If yours are already optimal, no need to use one.