While going without moisturizers may seem unfathomable to some, complaints about cream moisturizers are fairly uncommon. The widespread consensus has been that some of these formulations can cause breakouts, while others leave skin appearing and feeling greasy.
According to a recent Statista study, nearly 13 million respondents in the United States had not applied a single drop of moisturizer in the week preceding the assessment. To put it mildly, the news was shocking—especially for those who had been faithful in their daily skincare. To provide some consolation, the study revealed that 60 million people claimed to have used it seven times within the same time period, while over 24 million claimed to have used it 14 times in total.
In light of this, we enlisted the help of a few skincare experts to determine whether or not moisturizer is truly necessary. As it turns out, the question is trickier than you believe.
If you have an aversion to cream moisturizers…
If the greasiness of cream moisturizers turns you off, experts recommend applying oil to seal in moisture. There appears to be a widespread belief that oils will leave you feeling as though you’ve just run a marathon in 90-degree heat. This, however, is a falsehood. Indeed, there are several oils that are lightweight, quickly absorbed, non-comedogenic, and suitable for everyday usage.
“The key is to use natural oils,” Kristina Goldenberg, MD, explains. “Shea butter is a favorite of mine. It provides long-lasting hydration to the skin. As someone with dry, sensitive skin, I have no reason to fear an allergic reaction to this lotion, which is really mild.”
According to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, oils are much more effective in retaining moisture than creams. “Water dries the skin, whereas oils and ointments hydrate the most,” he continues. “Lotions are easy to apply but do not provide the same level of hydration as oils.”
Oil is intended to function by mending the top lipid barrier of the skin and trapping in moisture, whereas water-based gel moisturizers and serums evaporate, leaving the face feeling more drier. Oils, on the other hand, are problematic for individuals who have acneic skin. Oils, according to famous esthetician Renée Rouleau, function as a breeding ground for germs, resulting in further outbreaks. In this situation, you should consider alternate choices (more on those later).
For a milder alternative, celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas recommends serums, particularly if they are mixed with rich oils. According to her, “Serums with beneficial fats such as argan, avocado, or olive oil are excellent hydration. Oils include omega-3 fatty acids that help maintain the lipid layer’s moisture content while also acting as anti-inflammatories. Additionally, my exclusive retinol, Super Nova Serum, moisturizes the skin while promoting collagen synthesis.”
Vargas is also a strong believer in nourishing the face using sheet masks—a more expensive alternative for daily use, but ideal for quick and simple application. Additionally, because masks are generally oil-free, they may be healthier for acne-prone skin.
“Every night before bed, I apply a sheet mask,” Vargas adds. “I always use them on the aircraft.” “My sheet masks include a generous amount of serum, which I believe is sufficient to treat the entire face, neck, and chest.”
Another excellent alternative is to create your own mask or moisturizing cleanser—a practice endorsed by Goldenberg. “It’s simple to make moisturizing home masks and cleansers,” she explains. “Coconut oil, avocados, and honey are a few of my favorite items to utilize. Make sure to include the turmeric if you want to add some anti-aging benefits to the mix.”
When adding multiple moisturizers to your regimen, it is critical to begin with the lightest creams first. Applying a lighter serum over oil would be counterproductive, as the oil’s viscosity would likely hinder adequate absorption.
Vargas suggests beginning with a sheet mask, followed by a serum, and last with an oil-serum or oil. If you choose a DIY mask in lieu of oil, this would be the final step in your regimen.
What if you’re just interested in using a single product?
Goldenberg says that she would choose honey as her go-to moisturizing lotion. “Honey is the most adaptable of all the natural sweeteners. It hydrates, has antibacterial qualities [Editor’s note: An excellent choice for acne-prone skin], and contains antioxidants that aid in anti-aging “She justifies her statement. “Honey is my fave for these reasons.”
When asked what his sole recommendation would be, Frank suggested a common drugstore item. He contributes “I usually advocate using Aquaphor frequently to your skin since it adds another layer of protection. It’s especially beneficial in the winter since it helps shield the skin from the elements.”