Moisturizer helps keep your skin hydrated and refreshed. It can also reduce the risk of many skin concerns, like extreme dryness or oiliness, fine lines etc. But is it possible to moisturize your skin too much? The short answer is YES, but not as you expect.
Why are we moisturizing the skin in the first place?
Moisturizers help our skin in terms of reducing water loss and keeping irritants out, but isn’t that the job of our skin in the first place? The answer is YES, it is.
How does the skin do that?
Well skin the outermost layer is called the Stratum Corneum. It’s essentially composed of dead skin cells called Corneocytes. There are specialized proteins in between the Corneocytes called Cornea Desmosomes that rivet between them and, with time, degrade. Which allows for shedding of the Corneocytes and that’s what exfoliation basically is.
Now, when the water content of that outer layer drops, that can lead to dry heaped up skin cells. And ultimately impair the health of your skin barrier.
You’ve also got lipids that seal in water and keep irritating things out. Within that milieu, you also have hydroscopic factors that bind water and hold it in place. That’s referred to as natural moisturizing factors.
It’d be all well and good if we weren’t exposed to a lot of things that eat away at that protective layer. Detergent that we are encounter with washing our hands, cleansing cosmetics, makeup, dirt, impurities, pollutants, and all sorts of things settle on the surface of the skin. That protective layer can become more and more damaged, and you can start losing more water.
How does moisturizer work?
Moisturizers employ two strategies:
• The first is to increase the water content in the Stratum Corneum (remember that outermost layer of your skin?) through the inclusion of hydroscopic ingredients. Namely things like Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid that bind water. This way, they kind of mimic your skin’s natural moisturizing factors.
• The second strategy behind moisturizers is to deposit a water-soluble oily substance on the surface of the skin. Which kind of mimics the skin’s intracellular lipids. That’ll trap water in there, and ultimately prevent water loss. Those ingredients are known as occlusives and one of my favorites is Petrolatum. Why? Because it can reduce water loss out of the skin by 99%.
Moisturizers help address the needs of the skin barrier and everyone can benefit from that, including people who have oily skin.
Can you moisturize your skin too much?
There is a tipping point where you can have too much hydration in the Stratum Corneum. And there are quite a few conditions in which that occurs.
The first situation that comes to mind is diaper rash. You must think I’m out of my mind for even bringing up diapers in a blogpost about skincare but hear me out! Diaper rash happens because you have a moist environment in the diaper that overly hydrate the skin. Naturally, the end result is losing even more water and compromising your skin barrier. But there is another situation where a similar process takes place. One that I’m sure you’ve experienced, maskne.
Interestingly enough the remedy for both of these situations is to use an occlusive moisturizer to act as a barrier to water loss, and to prevent friction and further irritation so that your your skin can heal and recover.
The same thing can also happen in anywhere where you have skin on skin contact (e.g. under the armpits, abdominal folds etc.)
Can too much moisturizer make your skin oilier?
That is not true, too much moisturizer will not make your skin oilier. Oil production is governed by your hormones. Which means that it won’t be influenced by putting moisturizer on your skin.
How much moisturizer is too much?
I am hesitant to say that you can’t overdo it with moisturizer because I know there will be inevitably someone out there who goes overboard. Someone that will be putting on moisturizer every minute of the day. And yes that is excessive, and you certainly can always overdo anything. So I’m not advocating for the excessive use of moisturizer.
What I will always encourage people to do is use a moisturizer after cleansing. Because the cleansing action can disrupt some of the lipid barrier, and a moisturizer can help reduce water loss out of the skin. Naturally, if you wash your face twice a day, you should be using a moisturizer twice a day.
When it comes to hands, you can definitely get away with reapplying moisturizer more frequently. Because we wash our hands more often, we are constantly stripping them of moisture. So using a lot of occlusive moisturizer to the hands is recommended.
You can certainly moisturize your skin too much, but it most likely won’t be because of a moisturizer.
I hope you enjoyed this post! See you in the next one. Bye!
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