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‘Are Moisturisers a widespread and silent traitor and an important contributor to skin disease?’

 For me moisturiser has been a must have cosmetic since the age of 14 to keep my skin soft and supple, so this statement intrigued me and I had to investigate further! It was made by a cosmetic dermatologist Dr Rachael Eckel, who says that moisturisers lead to ‘the accumulation of dead surface skin cells, dryness, large pores, acne and sensitivity’.
She explains that when dead cells build up on the skin’s surface, it looks rough and dull causing us to slap on the moisturiser which in turn makes the skin stop producing its own moisture, thus requiring more and more moisturiser to relieve the dryness. She states that all that is required is an exfoliator because moisturisers actually make the skin ‘lazy’ and it becomes less able to hydrate itself.
Now for the science:
Dr Eckel explains that it is water that makes our skin glow and feel moist and we store water in the lower levels of the skin, in sponge-like structures called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).
This water is sealed into the skin by the skin barrier — layers of hardened, flattened skin cells, or the stratum corneum. This top layer is like a brick wall, with cells the bricks, and a mix of water, fats and protein the mortar, keeping everything together and cells hydrated.
In addition, the upper layer produces vital natural moisturising factors (NMFs) — amino acids, urea and lactic acid. These keep skin supple, protect us from UV light, maintain the skin barrier and regulate the skin’s natural exfoliation.
If you artificially saturate the skin surface with moisture, this sends a signal to cells to stop producing GAGs and NMFs. The epidermis shrivels and thins, and fine lines start to appear.
Dr Eckel puts her patients on a skincare regime that includes exfoliants and oil-free serums with vitamins, such as the ‘superhero anti-ager’ retinol. She says retinol, a form of vitamin A, speeds up skin regeneration and triggers natural hydration.
This may suit some people but I am happy with my current moisturisers and admittedly I do love my glycolic acid correcting cream that I have used for many a year! So exfoliation may be the key who knows.

22 July 2015
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