“Do I really need a moisturizer?” Dermatologists are always getting this question, and the answer is yes to the vast majority of us. “While your body has its own natural lubricating system — consisting of glands that secrete oil or sebum— to maintain a protective coating against external conditions and infections, most of us need extra hydration after the havoc that sun, climate and harsh chemicals wreak on our bodies.”

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BUT HERE IS THE THING: Moisturizers don’t give moisture to your body precisely. It turns out that what they do is much more important than you think. To clarify this, we asked experts in the skin to weigh in

1. IT SLOWS DOWN THE AGING PROCESS.

“Using a morning or night moisturizer plays a major role in maintaining safe and younger-looking hair,” Education Manager Teresa Stenzel offers Bioelements. “Appropriate cleaner, toner, wide-spectrum sunscreen and weekly exfoliation are of course also essential, but your moisturizer is what’ seals’ the deal.”

According to Stenzel, if the barrier function of your skin is impaired, it allows all kinds of pollutants, bacteria, free radicals and UV rays to attack your skin, damage healthy cells and accelerate the aging process of your skin. The effect is fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and skin slackening. “Antiwrinkle creams are in fact moisturizers,” says dermatologist Fayne L. Frey, a board-certified. “In addition, 80 percent of all moisturizer ingredients, anti-aging creams, eye creams, night creams and firming creams are identical. These products increase the skin’s water content and enhance the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

2. IT PREVENTS INFLAMMATION AND MAKES YOU BREAK OUT LESS.

If you don’t need to be moisturized for sensitive, oily or acne-prone skin, think again. According to board-certified dermatologist Purvisha Patel, it becomes easily irritated and much more vulnerable to allergens and breakouts when the skin is not properly hydrated.

“The skin will crack and become resistant if you don’t use enough moisturizer,” she says. “And when you are exposed to ingredients or chemicals that are too harsh for your particular type of skin, your body will release histamine into your skin that you will know as an allergic reaction or acne breakout.”

3. IT DELIVERS ACTIVE INGREDIENTS THAT ADDRESS YOUR SKIN CONCERN.

Many hydrating agents are also designed to do more than just hydrating. Some also contain active ingredients— from exfoliants to antioxidants to anti-inflammatory drugs— to provide your skin with additional benefits. “Moisturizers aren’t all one-size suits,” Stenzel says. “A moisturizer formula is formulated not only to keep your skin smooth, lubricated and healthy, but also to provide active ingredients that soothe, repair or rejuvenate depending on what your skin needs. That’s why it’s important to know what your genetic skin type is and pay attention to what’s missing from your skin so you’ll know what formula is right for you and get the most out of your moisturizer.

4. IT STRENGTHENS YOUR PROTECTIVE BARRIER AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE.

As the protective barrier for our body, the main function of the skin is to remove toxins and prevent toxic agents from reaching our body and damaging it. But without adequate water supply (which ultimately comprises every living cell in our body, including skin cells), the skin loses its ability to fulfill its task.

“It needs to be adequately hydrated to ensure that the skin works to maximum efficiency and is safe against environmental agents,” says board-certified dermatologist David Bank. “Dehydrated skin can’t keep a barrier intact. Therefore, moisturizers help bring and maintain water levels in the skin’s surface layers and help keep the water in the skin at an optimal level.

5. IT PRIMES YOUR SKIN FOR MAKEUP.

Often, moisturizers act as a barrier in your makeup between your body and the chemicals. It also improves the texture of your hair, making it easier for your makeup to glide.

6. IT SOOTHES YOUR SKIN AND IMPROVES YOUR COMPLEXION ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.

We all know what it looks like to dry skin: rough, scaly, crusty and sometimes white, flaky patches. Because some moisturizers contain humectants and emollients — agents designed to attract and retain moisture on your skin’s outer layers — moisturizers can almost immediately improve your skin’s appearance. “Moisturizers containing emollients and humectants are designed to make the skin feel soft and smooth,” Dr. Frey says. “Humectants work by attracting and drawing water from below the epidermis and the atmosphere into the stratum corneum. On the other hand, emollients soften the skin and offer a smooth, silky feeling. Both are great at improving the appearance of dry skin.”

 

“Do I really need a moisturizer?”

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