Sorry, this topic kinda frustrates me… The skin care industry provided us with moisturizers, but they didn’t explain what they’re actually for or how to use them.
Unsurprisingly, nobody knows what they’re doing when they’re “moisturizing” (except the Koreans).
I hear phrases like:
“This moisturizer just doesn’t work!”
“Omg, my moisturizer just sits on top of my skin!”
“My skin is still dry and flaky no matter how heavy the moisturizer is!”
Yes, yes, and yes. Your moisturizer will not work until you use it properly. There’s no way around this. So let’s get into it.
Why Do You Need A Moisturizer
Did you know that you are constantly evaporating water? We have to start here in order to understand how to moisturize.
Water travels from the lower levels of your skin to the outer layers where it then evaporates into the environment. This is called Transepidermal Water Loss — or TEWL.
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A moisturizer is there not to put moisture INTO your skin, it’s there to prevent your skin from EVAPORATING moisture as quickly.
But what if your skin has no moisture to begin with?
Dry skin is dry because it doesn’t make enough sebum. Sebum would keep the water in the skin, because it acts as a water/weather-proofer.
Low amounts of sebum in the skin means that water easily evaporates from the skin, leaving the skin dry AF.
Dehydrated skin on the other hand lacks water, not sebum. You’ll find that dehydrated skin is usually both flaky and oily…
It doesn’t have enough water, and the oil that it makes doesn’t do anything, in fact it works at keeping water out!
How To Moisturize In A Way That Actually Helps Your Skin
The people of the internet will tell you that dry skin needs oil, while dehydrated skin needs water. And I’ll tell you something else (that’s actually based in logic).
If you apply a moisturizer to dry skin, you are basically sealing it from evaporating water — that it doesn’t have, because it’s already evaporated.
If you apply a moisturizer to dehydrated skin, you are sealing it from evaporating water — that it doesn’t have because it’s so stripped of moisture.
Wherein lays the problem, since this is what the majority of you do to moisturize.
So what’s the number 1 thing that skin lacking moisture needs?
Step 1: Water
Your skin needs water because it’s always evaporating it. So start by actually spraying your face with water. It’s that simple.
Never ever use a moisturizer on a dry skin. It’s a waste of product, and can actually have the opposite effect.
Step 2: Humectants
Now to keep the water on the actual surface of your skin, and to keep it from evaporating, you need humectant ingredients often found in serums, like: aloe, hyaluronic acid, glycerin.
My favourite humectant of all time is hyaluronic acid, followed by aloe. These two feel super good and actually make the skin look amazing.
Humectants are incredible at retaining moisture, and hyaluronic acid for instance can actually hold 1000x more water than its weight and is my absolute favourite humectant.
Humectants work in a funny way though…
They are also capable of drawing moisture from your environment, or if the environment is dry, they can draw moisture from deeper layers of your skin.
This is fabulous in a humid climate, because it means that a humectant can keep your skin extremely well hydrated…
But what do you do to seal in the water and keep it from evaporating?
Step 3: Emollients
Now that your face is full of water and humectants keeping that water close to your skin, you need to use emollient ingredients that seal in the moisture, and slow down the evaporation.
Emollients are ingredients like oils, squalene, silicones, and waxes.
My favourite kind is squalene — I tend to avoid all oils and silicones and waxes on my face.
However, the thing to note about emollients is that they should be used in TINY amounts. I use a dot of my moisturizer containing water, a humectant, and an emollient over the water and humectant that I apply underneath.
And that dot is enough to seal in moisture and hydrate the hell out of your skin.
Now you know my 1-2-3 moisture formula. Start with water, then add humectant, then quickly add a dot of an emollient to seal in moisture and you get hydrated, clear skin.
This way you not only keep the water from evaporating from your skin, you’ll also add moisture BACK into the skin.
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