Cleanse, tone, and moisturize. That’s the mantra. But… is it right?
You definitely need a cleanser. How else are you gonna remove makeup, pollutants, and all the crap that deposits on your skin every day?
You definitely DON’T need a toner. You may use one if you wish, but my skin has been doing amazingly well for the past 10 years without it. Just saying…
What about step 3? Does everyone need a moisturizer, too? Let’s find out:
What’s A Moisturiser And How Does It Help Skin?
First things first: what the heck is a moisturiser?!
A moisturizer is a product designed to… moisturize skin (Shocking, I know). It does this by increasing its moisture levels and repairing its natural protective barrier. When that’s damaged, moisture evaporates out, leaving skin drier than the Sahara.
But… did you know your skin has its own in-built moisturizer? It’s called sebum. Yep, that thing you hate because it can turn your face into a shiny frying pan.
It only happens when skin produces too much of it. When the opposite happens, skin dries out skin. You need to get the balance right.
For most people, the balance isn’t right – especially as you get older and your skin drier and drier.
But when your skin produces just the ideal amount of sebum, it naturally moisturises on its own. No need to waste money on a moisturiser.
What does this mean for you? Do you need a moisturiser?
Related: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sebum
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Does Everyone Need A Moisturiser?
It depends on your skin type:
Yes! Yes! Yes! If there’s a skin type that needs moisturiser, it’s you. Here’s why:
Dry skin lacks oil (a.k.a. sebum). Your skin literally doesn’t produce enough of it. Without it, your protective barrier has holes left, right, and centre. Moisture evaporates through these cracks, leaving your skin all dry and flaky.
A moisturiser can fix it. The trick is to choose one high in oils and butters. They contain fatty acids, the moisturising building blocks that heal your skin barrier and deeply moisturise your skin, leaving it soft and supple.
- Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream ($60.00): Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK
- Jordan Samuel Soothing Facial Oil ($33.00): Available at Cult Beauty
- Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer ($35.00): Available at Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Feel Unique, Nordstrom, Paula’s Choice
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin
This is where it gets tricky. Your skin already produces more than enough sebum and has all the oil it needs. No need to add more, ladies.
But, your skin may be dehydrated (i.e. lack water). You know this is the case because you feel like you have a greasy layer on top of sandpaper. Your skin feels tight and dry, but it’s still as shiny as ever…
This is where an oil-free moisturiser comes in. Oil-free moisturisers use humectants, a group of ingredients that draws water from the air into the skin and binds it there. Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, and urea are all excellent humectants.
Humectants are great because they give oily skin all the moisture it craves without adding more oil to it. If you have oily skin, I encourage you to use them.
The exception? If your skin is severely oily and not dehydrated at all, you can skip moisturiser altogether. But if, at any point during the day, your skin feels a little tight, add your oil-free moisturiser back into your skincare routine, pronto!
- CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($15.99): Available at Asos, Dermstore, Feel Unique, and Ulta
- Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68.00): Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Oil-Free Moisturizer ($29.00): Available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin
Combination skin is a mixed bag. Some areas are a oil slick while others are dry and tight. What are you supposed to do?
Use a lightweight moisturiser. Preferably one with only a little amount of oil. You need their fatty acids to keep your dry areas happy, but you don’t want to go overboard and clog your oily patches.
A lightweight moisturiser keeps every are happy. Win win.
- IT Cosmetics Confidence In A Gel Lotion Moisturizer ($36.00): Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, and Ulta
- Paula’s Choice Defense Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer ($29.00): Available at Dermstore, Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom, Paula’s Choice, and Selfridges
- The Inkey List Multi-Bionic Face Moisturizer ($12.99): Available at Asos, Cult Beauty, and Feel Unique
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Combination Skin
Congratulations, you’ve won the skincare jackpot.
Your skin is already producing all the sebum it needs. Not a bit more. Not a bit less. You can still use a lightweight moisturiser if you want to, but you don’t need to. Your skin is fine without it.
Related: How To Care For Normal Skin
Don’t Confuse Moisturizers With Anti-Aging Products!
Are you one of the lucky few who doesn’t need moisturiser, but want to use it anyway because it helps with antiaging?
Think again. The vast majority of moisturisers out there “fight” wrinkles by hydrating skin. Moisture plumps up skin, so fine lines and wrinkles look smaller, but they’re still there.
If you want to really reduce those wrinkles (not just their appearance), you need retinol. You can get it in serum form. Click here for my product recommendations.
Related: 5 Antiaging Superstars You Should Add To Your Skincare Routine
The Bottom Line
Moisturizers are designed to improve skin’s moisture levels. If yours are already optimal, no need to use one. But for most of us, that’s not the case. *sighs*
Do you think everyone needs a moisturiser? Share your thoughts in the comments below.