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Sale and Altrincham Messenger 9 May 2013

MOISTURISING…do we use too much?

Q – I use an expensive moisturiser, both morning and night, but my skin still looks fairly dull, and can still be dry. Do I need a stronger moisturiser? Anne, Hale
A – Actually, Anne, unless you have a diagnosed skin condition, such as eczema, you may in fact be doing more harm than good by over-moisturising.
It is remarkably easy to get into a cycle of moisturising the skin to such an extent that the skin almost becomes “˜addicted’ to the process. Our skin goes through a natural cycle whereby we shed dead cells, to be replaced by newer cells from the deeper layers. However, when we moisturise, we are delaying this regeneration – there may be a short-lived smoothing of the skin, but we are actually helping to retain old, dead skin cells (and it is these cells which give our complexions the dull tone you refer to).

Many patients I see also use expensive moisturisers to try to stave off wrinkles and other signs of ageing, but over the counter products can only contain a limited amount of active ingredient. These products may feel luxurious to apply, and have a temporary plumping effect on the outer layer of dead skin cells. However, they are not actually working at a deeper cellular level, the way a prescription-only medication would.
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, unless you have a specific skin condition, so that eventually you only moisturise when the skin is unusually dry (for example following wind damage or sunburn). I would also recommend a cleansing and exfoliating regime, which encourages the regeneration of the skin, for a brighter, more radiant complexion.