Moisturisers claiming to be the most effective remedy for dry skin are all to common. When chilly weather wreaks havoc on our skin, it’s easy to reach for the rich creams or soothing balms. But is that really the best way to tackle a dry complexion?
Well, not necessarily.
According to Debbie Costello, resident expert facialist at top clinic Omniya in London, moisturisers can have the opposite effect, due to their high water content.
“In most moisturisers you will find that first ingredient is aqua. If you’re putting it on your skin, it’s like getting into a bath,” she says. “If you lay in the bath for ages, you dry up. You’re effectively doing the same things if you’re applying loads of moisturiser.
According to Dr Jasmeet Baxi, an aesthetic doctor and lead clinician at NaturaSkin, it’s not as clear cut as to whether moisturisers are bad or good, but it’s important to understand what your moisturiser is doing to your skin.
“I’d hate to say to you that it’s wrong to use all moisturisers, because you do need them, but you’ve got to base it on who you’re looking at, what their skin actually needs.”
So if you’re in need of a hydration boost, follow our 4 simple rules:
1. Protect the Surface
Step one is to reduce the moisture that’s lost through the surface of your skin. Dr Jasmeet says that moisturisers can “act as a protective cover” for the top layer of the skin – the stratum corneum.
According to Dr Jasmeet, ingredients to look out for are lanolin and zinc oxide, which has the added bonus of being a great physical UV protector.
2. Attract More Moisture
Keeping the skin protected is all well and good, but if the skin is lacking in moisture to start with, you need something more powerful to restore that hydration. “Ultimately you’re looking for something that will protect the barrier layer, but also contains properties that collect water so it becomes hydrophilic,” explains Dr Baxi.
For that, it’s ingredients that bind water molecules like glycerin and alpha-hydroxy acids you want to look out for.
3. What Goes On Doesn’t Always Go In
There’s no point shelling out on a product packed with impressive-sounding ingredients that will only sit on top of your skin. Collagen and hyaluronic acid are essential components in the skin, but just because it’s in your face cream, doesn’t mean it’s going to get into your face.
“The biggest thing you can do is increase the amount of hyaluronic acid in someone’s face, and that’s going to give you the most amount of hydration and also improve the texture,” Dr Baxi says.
“The problem when you use topical hyaluronic acid, the larger molecules can’t penetrate through the skin barrier, and if it’s a smaller molecule, well we haven’t done the studies to know how that’s going to affect the skin. In a way what you’re looking for is an injectable hyaluronic acid, or something like mesotherapy that will allow it to penetrate deeper.”
4. Stimulate your GAGs
So when it comes to skincare, it’s better to use ingredients that will help your skin produce its own hyaluronic acid, rather than using hyaluronic acid itself.
“What we need to be doing is stimulating the GAGs – the glycosaminoglycans that we naturally have occurring in the body,” says Debbie Costello. Hyaluronic acid is just one type of GAG (there are four types in the body) and to boost it, Debbie says it’s important to get retinol and vitamin C into the skin.