I am not a believer of moisturizers. There, I said it. I find moisturizers to be a band-aid solution that don’t really address the problem. Why, you ask? We’re going to get to that in a bit. But first, let me explain the skin cycle to help you understand better.
The perfect example of healthy skin is that of a baby's. They’re not oily, not dry, their pores are very small, and they have a lot of collagen, elastin, and glycoaminoglycans. When you were a baby, like Scarlet for example, your skin changed every 21 days. This means a baby’s skin naturally exfoliates, and after 21 days a new layer of skin forms on top. In your teens, your skin should shed every 28 days. But because of oiliness and humidity, your old skin doesn’t shed as fast naturally anymore.
The skin is like a sheet with little skin cells attached or glued together. In babies, the skin cells are not glued very tightly so they fall off (or exfoliate) naturally. In adults, considering their oiliness, humidity, and pollution, the glue becomes very makunat so your old skin doesn’t exfoliate naturally anymore. Instead, your skin becomes dry and old, dead skin accumulates faster on your face.
Enter moisturizer—moisturizers were created to make the thick outer layer of the skin (stratum corneum) feel softer. (Imagine how putting on a bit of petroleum jelly makes a kalyo feel softer.) Usually when you apply moisturizer, your skin becomes soft, especially with continued use. But what people don't know is that once you stop applying, your skin will still feel the same dryness as before.
So did moisturizer really fix the problem? Of course not. Moisturizers just provide temporary lubrication, and when you forget to lubricate, your skin goes back to its dry state. That's why I said moisturizers are a band-aid solution, because they really don't address the problem. (The problem being that the old, dead skin should come off just like a baby’s.) Instead, the old skin remains sitting on top your face but you won't notice it because it feels soft like new skin. Thus, the more you put moisturizer, the more the old skin won’t come off.
I always compare it to repainting a broken-down house. The house is already cracking, the paint on the walls are almost peeling off, but instead of fixing the house and replacing the old paint, you’re just putting new paint on top of the old paint. So picture this when you put on moisturizer: You’re not actually taking off the dead skin, you’re keeping it on your face and piling it up, too.
I really don’t advise the use of moisturizers here in the Philippines because it's already quite hot and humid. Moisturizers are useful in cold countries, where you can actually feel your face drying up. But in a tropical country, a moisturizer will only make you more oily. It will clog your pores and could potentially cause breakouts.
Here's the bottom line: You don’t really need to moisturize. You need to exfoliate in order to reveal the softer and smoother baby skin underneath your old dehydrated skin. How?
You need exfoliating or peeling agents that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), tretinoin, and retinol. Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids can be found in kojic and papaya soaps. This helps in separating the skin cells to help them shed off faster. This way, the skin can breathe because there’s nothing covering the oil glands anymore. Next, apply tretinoin or retinol to help prevent acne. This also helps in anti-aging and makes the skin cells easier to separate and come off.
I hope this helps you improve your beauty routines and regimens. Remember, the only time you should use a moisturizer is when you’re traveling to a cold country. Otherwise, exfoliate and hydrate. Do not lubricate.
Dermatologist to the stars Dr. Vicki Belo is Preview.ph's guest editor for the month of June. As the Founder and CEO of the Belo Medical Group she was the first to introduce laser treatments and the newest beauty technology to the Philippine beauty industry. At present, she has 13 clinics nationwide and continues to be the leading expert in anything related to beauty.
For any questions, you may call the Belo Medical Group at 819-2356 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.