Is Your Moisturiser Doing More Harm Than Good?August 18, 2020
As we get older, the self-hydrating mechanisms in our skin slow down and moisturising becomes more important. Environmental factors such as UV radiation, and even makeup or skincare products with occlusive (skin-blocking) ingredients can cause the skin to dry out.
Not all moisturisers are created equally. Most moisturisers help to seal in moisture, some have protective calming properties for the skin, others have pore-blocking irritants. It’s so important to have even a brief understanding of what you’re putting on your skin.
Ingredients To Look For
Your skin has a natural barrier that, like many moisturisers, helps to seal moisture into the skin. Moisture in the skin is comprised of both water and natural oils (sebum), so an ideal moisturiser would help protect the barrier and deliver water along with the right type of natural oil.
Organic essential oils, such as Jojoba Oil or Macadamia Seed Oil have a lipid structure identical to that of your skin, so they absorb and moisturise better than non-organic oils (more on those below). They can also help to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier.
Your natural barrier also contains Hyaluronic Acid, a humectant that holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Skin cells are capable of self-hydration by producing Hyaluronic Acid that aids in the absorption of water through the surface of the skin and into the cells.
In a moisturiser, Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid can penetrate your skin and hydrate the deeper skin cells, while regular Hyaluronic Acid can help plump up the surface cells. The best moisturisers have a combination of both.
You can also use a hydrating serum to give your moisturiser a boost. Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) and Vitamin B5 (Panthenol) help to regulate hydration in the skin. Instead of just adding moisture, these active ingredients can support your skin’s natural function and help your skin moisturise itself, instead of always relying on an external product.
Ingredients To Avoid
As mentioned above, you want to seal moisture into the skin, but you don’t want to suffocate it by occluding pores. This can lead to congestion, acne or irritation.
Lanolins, Silicones and Mineral Oils (derived from petroleum) are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to occlusive ingredients. Mineral oils may also be labelled as PEGs, Paraffin or Benzene on the ingredients list.
These occlusive ingredients may give the moisturiser a nice texture and feel, but with regular ongoing use, they can inhibit the skin’s normal function and lead to more drying of the skin.
Not to mention, if your moisturiser has beneficial active ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid and B Vitamins, Silicones can prevent them from being absorbed properly, rendering them useless.
According to Cosmetic Physician and Clinical Director Dr Garry Cussell, “unless you are using truly good and pure ingredients in a moisturiser, it is often best not to use any moisturiser at all!”
Does Sunscreen Help Moisturise The Skin?
It depends on the type of sunscreen and the ingredients. Regardless of your skin’s type and condition, you should always wear sun protection every day. Ultraviolet radiation can still be strong even on a dull cloudy day, and can penetrate through glass and therefore should always be used, both indoors and out.
There are two categories of sunscreen; chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens are made with chemical filters that absorb into the skin and filter out harmful UV rays. These break down throughout the day and they are often made with synthetic ingredients that can occlude pores and cause irritation or sensitivity.
Physical sunscreens provide an invisible barrier on top of the skin to reflect UV rays. They often contain Titanium Dioxide and Invisible Zinc. The best part about them is that Zinc also has calming anti-inflammatory properties for the skin.
There are plenty of Zinc-based sunscreens that moisturise the skin, so you may not need both a sunscreen and a moisturiser in the morning. If your skin does feel very dry, you can use both products, but be sure to moisturise first and then wait five minutes to let it sink in before applying your sunscreen.
Is there anything else I should do to keep my skin hydrated?
If you’re using a good quality moisturiser with essential oils and an active hydrating serum (as discussed above), you’re on the right track. Remember, it takes 28 days for the skin cells to turnover, so it may take some time before you see the benefits.
We also recommend using a mineral powder instead of foundation as it will help your skin breathe better, and drink plenty of water every day. If you are well hydrated, your body is in a better position to help your skin to stay hydrated too.
Looking for a moisturiser or hydration serum with soothing, natural ingredients?
Shop our RejuvAus medical grade skincare range.