Any skincare routine is incomplete without a moisturiser. The water or oil-based product, which comes in the form of cream, lotion or gel, helps retain moisture in the top layer of the skin, preventing dryness and helping avoid early wrinkle formation, inflammation, redness and itching.
The best time to apply a moisturiser is immediately after you step out of the shower and pat yourself dry. The damp skin helps lock in the moisture, leaving it supple, smooth and hydrated. Usually, it is recommended that a moisturiser should be used twice a day, but you should apply it whenever you think your skin feels dry.
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A lot of people have deep-seated beliefs about moisturisers, which often are not true. Here are some common myths:
Moisturisers are only for winters and dry weather.
Our skin has a natural tendency to lose moisture through the day and modern life, which includes spending time in the dry air of air-conditioning or the heater, does not help the situation. So be it summers or rains, one must not give up on their moisturising routine.
Oil is better than moisturiser
While it is true that oils do have moisturising properties, its application on the scalp and skin tends to create the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, which can lead to an increase in acne or heat boils.
Having said that, not all moisturisers are made equal. There is a great deal of variation in their consistency, content and some of them have additional ingredients that help certain types of skin and conditions. So how does one select a moisturiser?
Here are four questions you need to ask yourself when selecting a moisturiser:
What is my skin type?
You have oily skin if your T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) and the C-zone (outer area of the face) are oily to touch or shiny in the morning. In this case, use lotions that have a thinner consistency. These are light and don't add to your face's oily sheen.
You have dry skin if your entire face feels stretched or taut in the morning. Use thick creams (oil-based), which have an ointment type consistency, these stay on longer and lock in moisture for longer. For better hydration, look for ingredients such as dimethicone and hyaluronic acid. For locking in moisture, glycerine, lanolin and petrolatum are the key ingredients to look out for.
You have combination skin if your T-zone feels oily, but the C-zone feels taut or stretched. Use mild consistency creams. These are thin, spread evenly and hydrate the skin well.
What’s the current season?
During the cold and dry winter months, the skin tends to dry out more easily and hence it is better to use thicker creams. During the summer and monsoon seasons, it's better to stick with lighter lotions when the hydrating needs of your skin are relatively low.
Where will I apply the moisturiser?
As a general thumb rule, for your face and neck, use lighter lotions, for your arms and legs use mild consistency creams, and for your palms and soles of your feet, use thick consistency creams.
Does my skin have any special needs?
For acne-prone skin: A non-comedogenic facial moisturiser is great, as it won’t clog your pores. Stay away from facial moisturisers with ingredients such as lanolin and mineral oil waxes, which can clog pores and cause acne.
For sensitive skin: A hypoallergenic and fragrance-free moisturiser is your best friend. When looking for a moisturiser, pick one that has less than 10 ingredients. Fewer ingredients means fewer potential interactions with sensitive skin.
Mature skin: As we age, the ability of our skin to retain moisture also reduces, and the skin is generally much dryer. Your skin may need additional support in the form of antioxidants, retinoids, etc. But these products may tend to dry your skin further. It is best to consult a dermatologist who can recommend a good moisturiser that meets the needs of ageing skin.
Most importantly, remember that the basic process of moisturising daily goes a long way in maintaining a good healthy skin.
Sejal Saheta is founder-CMO, InUrSkn Skin & Hair Clinic.
Also read: Why we need different skincare routines for summer and winter