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BEAUTY RITUAL: Intro to Moisturizing

August 27, 2017

BEAUTY RITUAL: Intro to Moisturizing

More than any other step in a skin care regimen, moisturizers seem to be most talked about: dry folks think they need lots of it; oily folks think they can do without it or get by with very little; normal folks are happy to enjoy them as a compulsive last step.
But, things aren't as black and white as we would like to think-- what to look for/avoid and when to use a moisturizer depends on your skin type and how it responds to a moisture. Honestly, we could be here for days making our way though all the things one should consider when choosing a moisturizer, but I'm not going to do that it you... well... I'm not going to do it all in one sitting. *wink*... Today, I'm just going to cover 2 fundamentals. 
1) Moisture is water; only water can moisturize. A moisturizer is designed to deliver water into the skin. ALL skin types need moisture. A moisturizer doesn't need to be "heavy" to deliver moisture. Period. But the problem is that water evaporates quickly (that's why we can't get away with only splashing water on our face in the morning and expect our skin to stay hydrated all day). So, most moisturizers employ something that can help seal in that water, like wax or oils -- that's where things get tricky. First, it's a common misconception that moisturizers are oils-- that not true. One more time for those in the back-- Moisturizers are NOT oils. Remember, only water can moisturize. Oils can only nourish and protect skin. Even more, oils condition skin while trapping in moisture. For folks with "normal" or balanced skin, you can get away with alternating between applying a light moisturizer and facial oil because your skin properly holds moisture and the oil seals in moisture already present in the skin. BUT, this isn't the case for everyone: all oils aren't created equal and moisturizers with particular oils and waxes in them can sometimes do more harm than good. Probably most obviously to the folks with oily skin, the wrong oils (whether used alone or in a moisturizer) and wax can have your pores all clogged up-- looking at you coconut oil. Y'all might want to give waxes a skip, but this isn't to say that folks with oilier skin should avoid oils and moisturizers with oil altogether. Yes, you do need to moisturize your skin and you, too, can reap the conditioning and moisture-retention benefits of certain oils, but you should avoid comedogenic (pore-clogging) oils and products with them. Secondly, moisturizers that with heavier oils and waxes in them can actually comprise the health of all skin types over time if not used in moderation. Oilier folks tend to skip the heavy stuff, so this bit is especially for the "normal" to dry skin folks who reach for a heavier moisturizer or oil every day: if something is trapping everything in, it means that nothing can get in or out-- a Catch 22. You know the awesome humectants in your cleanser and/or toner that's supposed to draw in moisture from the air to keep your skin all fresh and whatnot? Now, she can't do her job because your skin is covered with a heavy moisturizer that's keeping out all the moisture from the air. All that careful work you put into finding a proper cleanser and toner, just to have everything undone at the end. Also, if your skin is already dry or dehydrated when you apply a heavy moisturizer or oil, you're only going to trap in that dryness. Sad. Lastly, all skin needs to breathe. Try putting something heavy over your nose and mouth and try to breathe, then tell me how that works out for you. Suffocation is not good in any scenario but to put out fires LOL! But, that's exactly what happens when you apply a heavy, waxy product to your skin too frequently-- it suffocates, which translates into irritations, blemishes, and even increased dryness. To add insult to injury, heavy products tend to sit on top of the skin because it can only absorb so much-- now you're walking around looking like a "bucket of Popeye's chicken" only to wash it off at the end of the day to find skin that's dryer than when you started <insert frustration-induced obscenitites here>. All this to say: keep your daily moisturizer as light as possible. 
2) Too much or too little of a good thing is NOT a good thing. If you've been following along with this series and you haven't learned this yet, then you haven't been paying attention LOL... Remember, the point of customizing a skin care ritual to suit your specific needs/concerns is to help your skin do what it needs to do, but not so much so that it starts to rely on the products to do all the work. Too much moisturizer on dry skin is not a good thing-- counter-intuitive, right? I know, but stay with me! You may not realize this, but if your skin is only comfortable after you've slathered on loads of moisturizer means that your skin is no longer holding on to moisture properly. (It also could mean that your cleansing and toning products are probably too harsh, but I digress). This is great for skin care brands because it means that you're using more and more of their product, not great for the long term health of your skin. On this flip side, too little moisture in oily skin is not a good thing. Remember: oil is not moisture. If your skin tends to be oily so you're stripping your skin with your cleanser and toner (also not great) but not following up with not enough or any moisturizer, your skin will over-produce oil to overcompensate for the imbalance and lack of hydration. In result, you may end up reaching for harsher products because you think that the ones you're using aren't working. 
The takeaway: all skin needs moisture, and that should be the primary goal. But, beware of how you're delivering and retaining that moisture in your skin. A moisturizer doesn't have to be heavy to hydrate, and you want your moisturizer to be as light as it can while still being effective. Oil is not a moisturizer, nor is it the devil-- it can help all skin types with conditioning and moisture-retention, but look for light oils that won't clog pores. Oilier folks: don't be afraid to try a light oil to nourish your skin and seal in moisture. If you find that your skin retains moisture pretty well and want to skip oils altogether, make sure you find a moisturizer with a great humectant that can continuously draw moisture into the skin so that it doesn't dry out and kick your skin into oil-production mode. Dry folks: don't overdo it! Try a little experiment: after cleansing and toning, see how long it takes for your skin to completely dry out. Then, apply a light moisturizer and see how long it takes for your skin to feel dry again. Do this for a few days to get a better understand of what you're working with-- your skin may not be as dry as you think...
In our next post, we're going to discuss ingredients you should look for in a moisturizer and those you should avoid.

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