One of the simplest ways to keep the skin healthy is to keep it properly moisturized. When the skin is not adequately moisturized it becomes:
- Dry, irritated and ultimately inflamed
- Appears more aged, dull and lackluster
- Lines, wrinkles and pigmentation become more pronounced
- Texture becomes rough
- The skin is less elastic
How is Moisture Lost?
Even if you drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day, your skin can only retain so much moisture. Some people inherently have dry skin, but other factors like cold air, dry air, medications, alcohol, harsh products, and environmental factors can all rob skin of its moisture.
When that happens, healthy cellular function breaks down and that leads to more dryness and shedding of skin cells. The longer the skin remains dry, the harder it becomes for the body’s natural moisturizing process to work.
Boosting Skin’s Moisture
Fortunately it’s easy for most of us to avoid the condition of dry skin. There are thousands of skin moisturizers on the market at all price ranges that can condition and moisturize the skin. The importance of using a moisturizer to protect the skin’s barrier and preserve moisture cannot be over stated – but using the right moisturizer can make all the difference.
There are three main types of moisturizing ingredients to consider:
- Humectants – These help attract moisture to the skin and include ceramides, glycerin, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin.
- Occlusives – These help to seal moisture in the skin. Look for ingredients like petroleum jelly, silicone, lanolin, and mineral oils.
- Emollients – These smooth the skin by filling in the spaces between the cells. These include linoleic, linolenic, and lauric acids.
Some of the most effective (and least expensive) moisturizers are petroleum jelly and moisturizing oils like mineral oil. That’s because these contain no water so they effectively lock moisture in the skin. These are ideal for moisturizing the skin on the body (not the face) and are best used while the skin is still damp from bathing. Other moisturizers contain water as well as oil, depending on the formula. These are less greasy and may be more cosmetically appealing than petroleum jelly or oils.
When it comes to moisturizing the more delicate (and reactive) skin on the face, there are other factors to consider. How dry your skin is, what your skin type is, and what condition your skin is in. All skin types need moisture (yes, even acne prone skin). How your product is formulated makes a difference, and depending on whether you are trying to achieve other goals (like preventing premature aging), active ingredients within the formula also matters.
For a comprehensive review of moisturizers, what type of moisturizer to use, and how to properly apply moisturizer, see our article on Moisturizers.
Other Moisture-Boosting Strategies
Boosting Moisture from Within
Hydrating from within is just as important as moisturizing the skin’s surface.
Apart from drinking plenty of liquids like water and skin-conditioning green tea, consume water-rich fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumbers, berries, celery, tomatoes, etc.
Eat raw or steamed fruits and vegetables – these retain their water content and play an important part in hydrating the skin.
Include fatty acids like salmon, olive oil, and avocado in your diet to keep the skin conditioned and healthy – this minimizes water loss and aids in retention of moisture in the skin.
Find out more about Eating for Healthy Skin
Fillers like hyaluronic acid act like a magnet in the skin, pulling water from the body to the area where the filler was injected. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by the body, so adding it back to dry or aging skin plumps the skin and makes it look full and youthful.
Tip for those who use fillers – after your treatment, focus on keeping your skin hydrated from within and moisturized on the outside – the results of your treatment will last longer.
Skin Restoring Treatments
Surface dehydration can easily be fixed with a moisture-boosting, hydrating skin treatment. There are dozens of different types of facials designed to restore and rejuvenate dry skin so check with your favorite Aesthetician.
Massage treatments can also be beneficial, these stimulate the skin and bring nutrients to the blood and oxygen to the skin.
Oxygen treatments also hydrate the skin. A mixture of hyperbaric oxygen or pure oxygen is delivered to the skin at a high pressure. It’s like using a tiny power washer to pump oxygen and moisturizer into the skin. A favorite with many A-listers.
Regular exfoliation is key to keeping the skin healthy and hydrated. That’s because unless the skin is exfoliated regularly, dead skin cells will build up and block any attempt at adding moisturizers to the skin – all you will be doing is nourishing dead skin cells, not the healthy skin beneath if you fail to exfoliate regularly.