While healthy skin depends upon a healthy lifestyle with a routine that includes a plant-rich diet and plenty of hydration, a good skin care regimen plays a vital role in keeping our dry skin replenished daily through the skillful use of moisturizers.
In order to wield your skin-quenching products like a day spa pro, you will need to search and understand a few basics about the different types of moisturizers, and how they work together to heal dry skin and keep your complexion lush and glowing.
What do skin moisturizers deal with underneath the surface?
First, a quick primer on natural skin moisture: Under the epidermis, or outer layer of your skin, the dermis receives water via the blood vessels. The very outermost layer of the epidermis is the stratum corneum, where skin cells are connected via sebum, which is a mix of fats and proteins that is naturally secreted.
Altogether, this creates a barrier that helps prevent the water loss that happens when moisture is pulled up from the dermis to the epidermis and evaporates, as is common in arid climates or recycled HVAC air (This is why you need to be careful not to overdo your exfoliation — you can damage the sebaceous barrier and actually create more flakey, dry skin than when you started).
When the air is really dry, however, that barrier can’t keep up with the environment and our skin loses moisture through microscopic cracks that form in the protective matrix.
Your search ends here; enter skin care to the rescue! Below are the ingredients that work distinctly well in your daily life.
Moisturizers, believe it or not, don’t actually add moisture to dry skin. They work in three distinct ways
- Humectants are substances that attract and bind water molecules and are able to penetrate the epidermis to draw water into it and help attract moisture. They include ceramides, glycerin, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin. They’re most effective right after washing when your skin is still slightly damp so that they can keep that water in your skin. One of the most popular humectants of late, hyaluronic acid, is so celebrated because 1) it occurs naturally in the skin, and 2) it’s able to bind many molecules of water, making it like a microscopic sponge.
- Emollients, unlike humectants, repel water and are therefore good for locking in moisture. Like humectants, they can penetrate the outer layer of the skin, so they’re also able to help strengthen the skin’s barrier by filling in all the tiny cracks in the outermost layer, giving a softer feel and brighter, smoother appearance. Emollient products contain oil, water, and an emulsifier to keep the two from separating. They are lighter and easier to apply than petrolatum or oils. Many commercial moisturizers contain both an emollient and a humectant, such as linoleic, linolenic, and lauric acids. Shea butter, cocoa butter, and plant oils are popular emollients; squalane is also highly sought-out because it’s a more shelf-stable version of squalene, which is a component of human sebum, making it a great and non-irritating ingredient.
- Occlusives are the heaviest type of moisturizer– think oils or petroleum jelly, silicone, lanolin, and various oils. They help seal moisture within the skin. They stay on the surface of the skin without penetrating it, meaning that they can be a power player in reinforcing your skin’s barrier. If you use them, make sure you put them on last, or your other products won’t work. Lanolin, silicone, and beeswax are common occlusives in moisturizers.
What could be said about the size of the product?
In general, the thicker a product is, the more effective it will be in moisturizing your skin.
Though controversial, it is said that some of the most impactful and least expensive moisturizers are petroleum jelly and other moisturizing oils because they do not contain water. It is suggested they are best used while the skin is still damp to seal in the moisture.
But do you really want to have lotions of petroleum jelly on your face at night? It sounds a bit messy. Many skin care products contain a combination of these three types of ingredients, and their primary function depends on how much of each one they contain in your routine.
Depending on where you live and how you spend your time, you might choose to layer a few products with the ingredients for maximum skin-plumping benefits in your routine, or you might look for a combination product that’s formulated for your skin type (such as a humectant-emollient blend if your skin is too oily to handle an occlusive).
What is a good rule of thumb when having to moisturize?
If you have a morning and a nighttime skin regimen that includes moisturizing steps with the ingredients for your face, neck, and chest, and you slather on body lotion after a shower, you shouldn’t need to add much more unless your skin has a condition that dries it out.
Just remember to use your products on freshly-washed skin that still has that slightly plumped, not-quite-dry feeling (pat your skin dry with a towel in your hands, don’t rub!) Keep a good hydrating combo with you on your daily travels, so that whenever you wash and dry your hands, you’re ready to replenish their moisture.
Stay true to this one simple step in your regimen, and your skin will be radiant throughout your life.
What else can you do to moisturize your dry skin and keep it healthy?
Be delicate with your skin because even though moisturizers are the most obvious option, they are definitely not the only way to treat dry skin. Here are more tips to moisturize:
- When the temperatures drop, use a humidifier. Because 50-60% of the human body is made of water, conditions of dry skin may pull moisture out of your body. Using a humidifier can help prevent your skin from drying out thanks to the added moisture in the air.
- Avoid long hot showers. Although a long hot shower seems therapeutic, you should limit them to five to ten minutes and use lukewarm water. Any longer, you run the risk of stripping your skin’s layer of oil and lose moisture.
- Use soap-free cleansers. Avoid perfumed and alcohol products. These types of cleansers have the ability to strip away necessary natural oils in your skin. It can also cause dry skin.
- Be gentle. Keep away from rough washcloths, scrub brushes, and bath sponges and do not rub the skin when you are drying off.
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Want to try top-quality moisturizer? Our Obagi and SkinMedica moisturizers offer something to fit everyone’s individual skin type and needs! The SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream is the most advanced formula combining the highest levels of antioxidants, Vitamins C and E, Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, and Omega-3 Fatty Acid in a luxurious moisturizing base. Each application delivers a more vibrant, younger and healthier complexion. The benefits? Contains the highest levels of lipid-soluble antioxidant vitamins C and E, helps repair sun-damage and reduce age spots, rehydrates, conditions, and firms the skin, encourages skin’s ability to repair and rehydrate itself and, provides protection against environmental aggressors.
The Obagi Hydrate Luxe is a moisture-rich cream that improves skin texture, radiance, and overall appearance. Obagi Hydrate Luxe is designed to complement the skin’s natural nightly functions. This ultra-rich facial cream deeply hydrates to keep skin looking soft and supple. With continued use, this moisturizer also helps improve the appearance of fine lines, skin texture, firmness, skin radiance, and overall hydration.