Many patients I see use expensive moisturisers to try to stave off wrinkles and other signs of ageing, understandably influenced by persuasive advertising trumpeting the beneficial effects such products have on the skin. This mantra, that moisturising once or twice a day is paramount for healthy skin, has been drip-fed into our consciousness for many years. But why do many still experience dry, dull skin despite adhering to a strict moisturising regime, and despite using expensive products? What most people don’t realise is that habitual moisturising can actually be doing more harm than good.

Face one hand dry skin

Our skin goes through a natural cycle of regeneration, whereby we shed dead skin cells, to be replaced by newer cells from the deeper layers. However, when we moisturise, we are actually delaying this regeneration. Moisturisers can create a short-lived smoothing of the skin, and can certainly feel luxurious to apply, but what we are actually doing is helping to retain old, dead skin cells (and it is these cells which give our complexions the dull tone we seek to avoid).

The effect of moisturising is to thicken up the stratum corneum (the outer layers of the skin). This ‘artificially thickened’ outer layer can develop a degree of sensitivity, such that (for example) the skin feels dry and tight after washing. We then immediately want to moisturise again. But think back to when we were children, and few of us will remember needing to moisturise, and this was because the natural process of regeneration took place without interference.

stratum corneum

Of course there are times when it is appropriate to moisturise, such as when your skin is temporarily dry, perhaps following wind-damage or sunburn. However, routine moisturising should only really be necessary for those who have certain dermatological conditions which cause true dryness, such as eczema or psoriasis.

Rather than moisturising and hindering the regeneration of the skin, I believe in adopting a cleansing and gentle exfoliating regime. Furthermore, for optimum skin health I believe in using an antioxidant serum and, of course, a broad spectrum sun cream in the morning. I appreciate that a lot of people would find it difficult to suddenly stop moisturising, so my advice would be to gradually reduce the amount you use. If you are using a heavy cream, try switching to a lighter lotion. If you are moisturising twice a day, try reducing this to once only. You may well find that using an antioxidant serum and an SPF provides sufficient comfort after washing to negate the need for a moisturiser.

If you would like to take your skincare one step further, at BrightNewMe I advise a variety of prescription-only skincare products. As they are prescription-only, they can contain much greater concentrations of active ingredients, and are formulated to penetrate below the epidermis to regulate the skin at a much deeper cellular level. Having healthy, glowing skin is hugely empowering, and should be achievable.

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