People ask me how to moisturize all the time. It’s in the top 10 of Dermatology Questions. To save you all the suspense, here is my Theory of Moisturization!
To understand anything, it’s important to understand the words. Moisturize means “make less dry”. Emollient means “having the quality of softening or soothing the skin”. Humectant means “retaining or preserving moisture”. You can see they all mean essentially the same thing, keeping the skin moist. Now that we have the terminology down, the solution is easy.
We get dry skin for many reasons: a disease state, maturity, cumulative sun exposure, living in dry climates (natural or man-made). Water leaves our skin via evaporation because of all these reasons and more. We want to prevent that evaporation, and maintain the level of water in our skin, and that’s simple. You always want to apply moisturizer to moistened skin, so you have water there. Putting moisturizer on dry skin won’t let it get drier, but it won’t make it moister. There is no water transferred from the moisturizer to the skin. I think it is easier to think of making a “skin/water/moisturizer” sandwich.
And here’s an important point. Doing it once in the morning will not keep your skin moisturized for the rest of the day. You must keep on doing it. The drier and more irritated the skin, the more often you must do it and the more specialized your tools need to be. Be warned, shameless plugs coming! With sensitive skin and disease states, specialized tools are needed: when patients suffer from atopic dermatitis or are under treatment with Accutane for acne, its best to use our Resnik Skin Institute Non-drying Soapless Cleanser and our Prean Cream for body protection and our Extreme Hydration hyaluronic acid moisturizer for face and sensitive areas.
It’s easy to keep soft smooth well-moisturized skin, if you follow these few simple concepts.
Barry I. Resnik, MD is a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Miami, Florida. He can be reached at www.drresnik.com or at his office 305-692-8998. Don’t live in Miami? No problem! Virtual Visits are available.