How Well Do Moisturizers Work? All You Need To Know
Having dry skin is not something that you should really worry about since it’s not a medical condition. However, serious cases could lead to fissures and cracks that could make your skin susceptible to inflammation and infection.
Discomfort is the number one concern of people who have dry skin. People tend to scratch their skin often because of the itchiness and sometimes it can be painful. Other people may also find scaly patches on their skin that’s rough to touch.
But the good news is that there are lots of products out there that can address dry skin problems. You’ll find tons of moisturizers, creams, and lotions that are specifically made for those who have dry and sensitive skin.
However, it can be hard to decide which among these products is better for your skin. Although these products come with labels and have ingredients written in them, some companies don’t disclose sensitive information and are careful enough not to get into trouble with the Food and Drugs Administration.
But if you’ve noticed, product labels and TV ads now use scientific terms in order to lure customers. Some of them will bill their moisturizers as “allergy-tested” and “hypoallergenic”, even if the government has not set any standard in making these scientific claims.
In addition, there are certain products that claim that they are non-comedogenic, which means that they will not trigger any breakouts. But most of the moisturizers of today are actually made with non-comedogenic ingredients.
Some companies will even include a long list of vitamins in their moisturizers but this will not make any difference since these vitamins don’t make that much difference. Not only because they are in extremely small amounts but also because they may have been exposed to oxygen or light.
But despite the varying list of ambiguous ingredients, these moisturizers have only one purpose and that is to supply the skin with a bit of moisture and is made of a greasy substance that keeps the skin moist.
Back in the day when these moisturizers are not yet available, our grandparents have to rely on petroleum for their dry skin. We still have that product today, which is Vaseline. The main reasons why moisturizers are more popular now than the petroleum jelly is because moisturizers feel nicer on the skin and still contain petroleum.
Aside from petroleum, some of these moisturizing products are also made of humectants, the ingredient that’s responsible for sponging and retaining water in the skin.
But despite the confusing terminologies of the ingredients used for these moisturizers, you can be sure that they are really effective at moisturizing your dry and sensitive skin. Most of the moisturizers that we have now can address the dryness and help relieve the symptoms that come with it.
But how do you choose which one is right for you?
Dead Skin Cells
Our skin is made up of several layers. The outermost layer is known as the stratum corneum, and these consist of cells that are known as corneocytes. This layer of your skin is also made up of various lipids with some fats in between them. The corneocytes are just like bricks while the intercellular lipids work like the mortar. This is the perfect metaphor to describe this skin layer that works as a barrier.
Meanwhile, the corneocytes refer to the dead skin cells that don’t have nuclei, although they are not to be considered deadwood. Instead, they are made of several substances that can hold water. In order for our skin to feel supple and smooth, the stratum corneum should contain at least 10% water. The ideal range should be 20 to 30 percent.
The stratum corneum is capable of absorbing up to 5-6 times its own weight and will increase its volume up to threefold once its soaked in water. However, it is not only the water content that’s important here. The effect of water on the enzymes that control the proper shedding of corneocytes is more important.
This process is what dermatologists would call the desquamation. If there’s no moisture or water, the corneocytes will accumulate and this is why the skin gets flaky and won’t peel off nicely. Then the stratum corneum will get disorganized and that’s when the skin will be filled with cracks and not tightly packed.
Since moisturizers are made of oil, most people assume that whenever they put the moisturizers on, what they are replacing is oil. However, even though most young children have very smooth skin, the sebaceous glands won’t start producing oily sebum until they reach the puberty age. Dry skin is actually a result of a lack of moisture and not oil.
Main Ingredients in Moisturizers
To help you decide the best moisturizer to buy, it is best to familiarize yourself with the different ingredients used in moisturizers.
Petrolatum, along with the other oily substances used in making the moisturizers, is also known as occlusive. That’s because their main function is to prevent the water from evaporating. Despite the many variations used in manufacturing the moisturizer, petrolatum is always present.
Many waxy and fatty substances can be used as occlusive. The most common of them are acetyl alcohol, lanolin, mineral oil, lecithin, paraffin, as well as stearic acid. In addition, Cyclomethicone and dimethicone are the types of silicone that are also used as occlusive.
Whenever you see moisturizers claiming that they are “oil-free”, that usually means they don’t have vegetable oil or mineral oil. It will mainly rely on the dimethicone for its occlusive.
Aveeno claims that they use natural oatmeal for occlusive, however, in some varieties, the only active ingredient used is dimethicone. Occlusive’s effectiveness will vary. Petrolatum is still the best since it can retain moisture well.
The topical retinoic acid, which is a type of Vitamin A, is the most common ingredient that’s being added to moisturizers. It helps to minimize wrinkles and fine lines since it stimulates collagen production. In fact, this is the main ingredient used in making anti-wrinkle creams.
However, there are some moisturizers that use retinyl palmitate for its Vitamin A. It’s not really as biologically active compared to retinoic acid. It is unlikely that the retinyl palmitate used in moisturizers have the most effect on wrinkles and collagen. But if it does come with benefits, it may be due to the fact that it's a type of humectant.
As for Vitamin C, it’s normally listed as “ascorbic acid”. There’s also Vitamin E, which usually comes in the form of tocopheryl acetate. These ingredients are added in the mix due to their antioxidant properties.
Studies done on topical Vitamin C have shown that it did come with some effects but only when they are added in high concentrations.
Some experts are still doubtful of its effectiveness as a moisturizer ingredient since exposure to oxygen and light could render the Vitamin C ineffective. Tocopheryl acetate, which is a type of Vitamin E is biologically inactive and may be used merely as a preservative.
Most of the moisturizers that we can find in the market now are oil in water emulsion. This suggests that they come in the form of lotions and creams.
If you refer to the list of ingredients at the label, you’ll find that water is on top of the list. Some water tends to evaporate whenever you will put on the moisturizer in your skin but some of these will get soaked in.
Although the stratum corneum is able to absorb the water nicely, it will not bind very well. This is why some oily substance is required to hold the moisture in. Applying any oily substance on your skin without water is not effective. You will only end up with a greasy skin that’s still dry and cracking.
The purpose of emollients in moisturizers is not to moisturize. Instead, it is there to help give the skin a smooth texture. There are several ingredients that are used as emollients. Dimethicone is one of them.
Sometimes, humectants are being used as emollients. Due to the presence of isopropyl in alcohol, it’s a common misconception that they tend to dry your skin and should not be used in moisturizers. However, some alcohol actually acts as excellent emollients.
Technically, the role of humectants is to strain the water from the stratum corneum, both from the skin’s deeper layers and the air as well. But if the humidity is low, there will only be a small amount of water in the air and most of the water will come from inside out.
Some of the most common humectants are glycerin, panthenol, honey, sorbitol, and urea. Humectants could potentially make the skin drier since it has the tendency to pull water towards the damaged and layer of the skin that’s not holding the moisture.
The skin on the heel area can get leathery thick and will eventually become very dry. Using a callus file or pumice stone can help to effectively remove the skin’s outer layers.
To soften it up, you can apply a moisturizer like the AmLactin. This is an over the counter lotion that contains 12% lactic acid.
Moisturizers that are being marketed as itch remedies, such as Sarna usually contain menthol. Even though menthol won’t attack any underlying condition, the cooling sensation that it gives off doesn’t seem to soothe the itchiness.
Daily Moisturizing Skin Care Routine
Take note that each and every person has varying moisturizing needs. So, the type of moisturizer that one should choose will depend on his or her skin type. Other factors to consider are the pigmentation as well as the weather or the climate.
It’s very important that you are aware of your skin type before you start looking for moisturizers. But there are certain products that can work for all skin types. For instance, the Pumpkin & Spice Moisturizer is suitable and safe for all types of skin including those with sensitive skin.
Moisturizing after you take a shower is highly recommended. Using a detox cleanser such as the Pumpkin & Spice Facial Scrub is also a good idea as it helps to eliminate the layer of skin cells that are dead and remove any excess oil away. Exfoliating regularly using a body scrub or a loofah is also effective, especially in the tougher portion of your skin, such as the feet, hands, knees, and elbows.
After you shower, pat yourself gently with a towel. For your face, apply facial lotion daily. Choose those that have an SPF of at least 15. However, just because your facial lotion or moisturizer has SPF doesn’t mean you can spend time under the sun for as long as you want.
So how often should you apply a face moisturizer? Again, this will depend on the type of skin that you have. But most dermatologists recommend using moisturizer twice in a day, morning and night. For day use, it should have an SPF and for nighttime use, you can use any moisturizer even with no SPF.
Even if you’re still in your teens, you should already start establishing a proper skin care routine for your face.
Whether you’ve got oily skin or acne-prone skin, you should include a moisturizer in your skin regimen. Just make sure you choose the non-comedogenic ones.
20 Years Old to 30 Years Old
During your twenties or thirties, your skin has already gone through a lot. Also, factors like poor diet and tobacco use, as well as constant exposure to the sun can all have harsh effects on your skin.
You probably thought that at this age, you’re still too young to apply moisturizer, but you actually should be using moisturizer, and it should be an important part of your anti-aging regimen.
40 Years Old and Above
When you’ve already reached the age of 40, you should be using lotions and anti-aging serums along with moisturizers.
You should make sure to use products that are made from natural ingredients and contains essential vitamins, such as the Pumpkin & Spice Moisturizer. It’s gentle on the skin and can work to help to minimize the signs of aging.
Moisturizing should be an important part of your skincare routine. In fact, you should moisturize every day in order to minimize the risk of developing extreme dryness on your skin.
Furthermore, using a moisturizer can help to conceal other skin blemishes and delay the signs of aging. So regardless of your age and type of skin, you should make moisturizing a habit.