This is why a moisturiser matters
In partnership with SA’s top medical aesthetic companies
In an ideal world, our skin would function perfectly, without needing any input from us. But the reality is that even beautiful baby skin is very vulnerable to loss of water, because its structure isn’t fully developed and functioning optimally until the age of 2, which is why we need to give it a helping hand.
What is a moisturiser, and what does it do?
In simplest terms, a moisturiser helps your skin to maintain its own natural moisture – water, that is, keeping the protective skin barrier (a ‘forcefield’ of skin cells and lipids on the skin’s surface) healthy by stopping it evaporating from the surface, and by trapping it in the skin cells through drawing water in.
Why is that so important, you ask? You’ll have heard that our bodies are up to two-thirds water, and water is vital for our body’s homeostasis, which means its best possible condition or state for perfect functioning and health. Without optimal water levels, our body can’t function at its best, and that includes our skin, which is - after all – our body’s largest organ.
A healthy skin barrier is vital for skin homeostasis, creating the perfect environment that allows skin cells to produce and maintain the five elements that are vital to its health and youth: hydration, collagen and elastin and the fibroblasts that produce these, as well as vital enzymes.
So if our skin is designed to do this naturally, why do we need moisturiser?
The fact is that our skin is unique in that a number of factors - genetics, hormones, our ethnic heritage, lifestyle and even the environment contribute to our particular skin make-up.
If we have dry skin, for instance, this is genetic. We’re born with skin that doesn’t produce enough of its own moisturising oils and other factors, so it looks dull and feels tight, rough, flaky and itchy. Unfortunately, it often goes hand-in-hand with eczema or atopic dermatitis. Here it is essential that we keep the skin barrier topped up with lipids to prevent dryness, itching and infection, and it involves a lifelong treatment with moisturisers and possibly medication.
Normal skin, for those lucky to have it, is skin that functions perfectly as it should. It has an even skin tone with no flaking or sheen, but external and internal conditions can change this.
Oily skin overproduces oil, and telltale signs include larger pores and a sheen that develops during the day. You can either be born with this, or circumstances (from hormones to stress, etc.) can make our skin go into oil production overdrive, causing problems like acne.
Many people have a combination skin - with an oily T-zone (forehead, nose and chin), and drier skin along the cheeks.
Truly sensitive skin is also something we are born with and signs include the fact that it’s very thin, pale and delicate, prone to blushing, irritation and redness, and it’s usually accompanied by asthma and allergies.
However, any skin can become sensitised form attack by pollution and chemicals, irritant fragrances, stress, hormonal fluctuations, smoking, alcohol, poor diet, medical procedures, over-exfoliation and even harsh skincare.
This leads to the question…
Do all skin types - even normal and oily skin - need to moisturise?
The answer is yes! All skins need moisture. That’s a fact.
Because all skin types, including oily, can become dehydrated when our skin barrier is compromised and water escapes. This means its ability to protect our body from harmful external elements, such as sunlight, toxins and pollutants, bacteria and viruses in the air (to name but a few) is lessened, and the skin can’t perform its important functions properly.
This is why you need to help skin by giving it ingredients that help to keep the moisture barrier healthy, as well as other ingredients that trap water in the skin.
If you have oily skin and choose to only cleanse your skin, thinking that using a moisturiser will worsen your condition, you could actually be making the situation worse. Using cleansing products can strip away the protective moisture barrier, which then stimulates the skin to overproduce oil to try to repair the barrier, so your skin ends up even shinier.
If you don’t repair the barrier, bacteria can attack the skin and cause acne. This is why you need a moisturiser with the right lipids that help protect and repair your skin barrier, without adding extra grease to the mix.
Correctly identifying your skin type is essential in order to maintain a healthy, good-looking skin. If possible, input from an aesthetic doctor or dermatologist and their qualified skin-care therapists is first prize, as they will not only be able to assist in correctly identifying your skin type, but will also be able to recommend the correct products.
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