I wrote earlier about how many people ask me if they need a skin toner. Even more than that, I get asked if we really need to use a moisturizer in a hot and humid climate like ours.
The answer, is, a definite yes.
Moisturizing is a basic component of everyday skin care. It is one of the 2 basic processes (the other being cleansing) which maintains overall skin health and function.
Why is Moisturizing So Important?
The epidermis forms an important barrier, protecting the skin underneath. This barrier often gets disrupted, resulting in loss of function and water. Many conditions predispose the epidermis to disruption: environmental factors such as low humidity and strong winds, underlying skin problems such as eczema, and chronic illnesses such as hypothyroidism and diabetes, to name a few.
Once this protective epidermal barrier is disrupted, we see the signs we are all familiar with: dryness, scaling, roughness, fine fissuring, and itchiness. Moisturizing is important to maintain this protective barrier and ensure yous skin remains healthy.
What Is a Moisturizer?
A Moisturizer’s main function is, naturally, to keep moisture in the skin. It usually contains occlusive, humectant and emollient ingredients working in tandem – The occlusive component slows down evaporation and water loss; the humectant compounds attract water from the dermis and harbour water into the outer epidermal layer; while the emollient ingredients fill the crevices between disrupted skin, contributing to both clinical efficacy and aesthetic elegance by making the skin surface soft and smooth.
Examples of occlusive ingredients include paraffin and squalene. Common humectant agents you will often see in moisturizers include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and urea. Compounds with emollient properties include jojoba oil and isopropyl isosterate.
You will notice that many moisturizers contain silicone derivatives (dimethicone, cyclomethicone). I personally love silicone derivatives as they not only have occlusive capabilities, but emollient properties as well, making your skin look very matte and smooth. They are also non-greasy and non-comedogenic, making them suitable for oily skin. For these reasons, many make-up primers contain dimethicone and/or cyclomethicone.
A Moisturizer Does Not Have To Be A Cream, Or Oily
One big misconception is that moisturizers are oily and will clog pores.
Remember that a moisturizer does not have to be a cream; and a cream is not synonymous with a moisturizer.
To suit tropical climates and oilier skin types, there is no lack of moisturizers formulated as lotions, or even serums. Lotions (oil-in-water emulsion) are thinner than creams (water-in-oil emulsion) and are more suited for daytime facial use.
Cream based moisturizers are better used at night, hence the term ‘Night Cream’, which refers to moisturizers with heavier lipids such as petroleum and mineral oil, formulated with other active cosmeceutical ingredients.
There are even moisturizers formulated as serums, containing humectants such as Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the face without clogging your pores. Radium Skin Serenity Skin Revival Serum is one such example.
Moisturizers: Going Beyond the Basics
In the ever changing skin-care arena, we now demand more from our moisturizers. Those which only perform the basic task of protecting the skin barrier are now mostly outdated. Almost every moisturizer you pick up over the counter these days will also contain other active ingredients, added to pack more punch to the product.
These added ingredients are meant to tackle the common skin problems such as acne or pigmentation. Hence, very often, you will come across an ‘anti-aging moisturizer‘ or a ‘skin brightening moisturizer‘. Remember that at the end of the day, which moisturizer is best for you will depend on your skin condition – The ‘best’ anti-pigment moisturizer may work wonders for your friends, but may not do the same for you. Speak to your doctor for more information on a suitable moisturizer for your skin.