There’s no question that everyone should moisturize their face. The question is really how often should you do so? Not all products are equal and there are other factors that play into creating your daily regimen too, like your skin type.
In fact, your skin type is arguably the most important factor when deciding how often to slather on the face cream! Skin that is dry might require a more rigorous moisturizing regimen, while skin that is blemish-prone might require a routine that’s a little less frequent. So, how often should you moisturize your face?
Importance of Moisturizer
The reality is that if you want your skin to look healthy, it’s not enough to apply sunscreen everyday, or cleanse properly––you also need to apply a clean moisturizer.
Your skin comes with a natural protective barrier that guards against external damage such as environmental pollution, oxidation from UV rays, weather changes, and more.
Even facial cleansers and exfoliators can damage the protective barrier of your skin, regardless of your skin type. Age is also an important factor, which ultimately results in your skin cells not being able to hold as much water content as before. It also means you lose any retained moisture more easily.
So, is there a difference between hydrating vs moisturizing? By definition, moisturizers are cosmetic products that are designed to prevent dry, dull skin. In reality, moisturizers are much more than that, although that is their main purpose. Commonly formulated with oil and water, moisturizers come in all types of formulations and ingredient combinations.
They replenish moisture levels in your skin’s layers, lock in that moisture, and help form a barrier between your skin and external elements. There are three main types of moisturizers.
Humectants are products or ingredients that attract water molecules from their surroundings. In skincare, upon topical application of humectants on your skin, it not only attracts water from your surroundings, but can also bring out water from the deeper layers of your skin to the top layer.
Humectants suit all skin types but are especially beneficial for oily and blemish-prone skin since they are lightweight. Common humectant ingredients include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and glycol.
Emollients are ingredients that are designed to soften up your skin. When your skin is dehydrated or extremely dry, it can cause micro tears and cracks in the surface, which leaves space between your skin cells.
Emollients essentially fill in these spaces and cracks with fatty substances that make the surface of the skin smooth again. Because of their functionality, emollients are exceptionally suited to dry and sensitive skin types. However, emollient dominant moisturizers can also be used for normal and combination skin types with great results.
Occlusives are moisturizing ingredients that form a layer on the surface of your skin to prevent moisture loss by forming a protective barrier. It basically mimics the functionality of your skin’s natural lipid barrier and works to protect it against external factors that may be damaging.
They commonly come in thick consistencies, like cream formulas and are often water-proof. Occlusives are excellent for dehydrated and dry skin, as well as sensitive skin.
Some moisturizers can be characterized based on their formulations too, not just ingredients. For instance:
Cream moisturizers are thick and heavy products that create a layer on the skin to prevent moisture loss and provide protection. They contain humectants, emollients and some occlusive oils and create an optimum balance between the three. Moisturizers have a low water content when compared to oils and other heavy formulations.
Lotions have a higher water content compared to cream moisturizers. That means they are thinner in consistency than creams and don’t create a thick layer on the skin’s surface in quite the same way.
Gel formulated moisturizers are water-based products that are extremely lightweight and breathable. They are rich in humectants that absorb easily into your skin, and only contain emollients and occlusives in minor amounts.
How Often Should You Use a Face Moisturizer?
Generally accepted advice about the use of moisturizers is to apply it twice daily––every morning and every night. It’s the most commonly accepted practice because it ensures that the moisture content of your skin remains constant throughout the entire 24 hour period.
Regardless of what else you incorporate into your skincare routine, that means you should make sure a daily moisturizer is on the list both when you awaken and at bedtime. In the morning, facial moisturizer should be applied after any serums and toners, but before sunscreen and makeup. Whether you cleanse your face in the morning is up to you.
In the evenings, moisturizer should be applied only after properly cleansing your face to make sure you are not sealing in any dirt and debris with its application.
Moisturizers for Different Skin Types
Different skin types require different ingredients to work efficiently and effectively. What oily skin needs may not be suitable for dry skin types, and vice versa. For your skin to look its best, you first need to figure out what your skin type is, so you can choose a moisturizer that best suits your skin.
Oily skin features an excess of oil on the face, especially in the T-zone area of your forehead, nose, and chin. This results in a continuously greasy and shiny appearance to your skin. Oily skin clogs easily and can cause blemishes.
Any moisturizer you use for oily skin should be lightweight, so it doesn’t lead to clogged pores and allows your skin to breathe. Gel and lotion forms are the most suitable for oily skin types.
Dry skin is characterized by tightness and dullness, devoid of that natural glow. This is because dry skin means the skin barrier is not as efficient in retaining water, possibly because of a lack of lipids in its top layer.
Lack of lipids results in moisture loss and leaves your skin exposed and vulnerable to external elements. Dry skin needs moisturizers that are helpful in strengthening the protective barrier of your skin. Try looking for cream or lotion formulated moisturizers that contain emollients and humectants, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, dimethicone, lanolin, glycol compounds, protein, ceramides, and vitamin E.
Combination skin types means your skin is oily or dry in some areas and normal on the rest of your face, or oily in some areas and dry in others, or vice versa.
Simply put, as the name implies it’s a combination of all skin types.
When learning how to keep skin hydrated, you can go with any type of moisturizer like gels, creams, or lotions. The focus should be on using a moisturizer that hydrates and nourishes the skin barrier, and locks in all the goodness to prevent moisture loss.
Although blemish-prone skin can be oily, dry, combination, and even sensitive, it is commonly dealt with using products that suit oily skin. This is because a major cause of blemishes is dirt or debris getting clogged in the pores and follicles of your skin.
Therefore, you want a moisturizer that prevents excess oil on your face and lightweight so it allows your skin to breathe freely.
Sensitive skin is basically any type of skin that’s prone to visible signs of inflammation and can afflict any skin type. With that said, sensitive skin is almost always dry skin, since that type of skin is already vulnerable to cracks and visible signs of inflammation.
To minimize the risks of visible signs of inflammation, the best moisturizers for sensitive skin should contain soothing ingredients and should be suitable for sensitive skin that may cause a reaction.
Moisturizing your face daily is a tiny form of self care that you can use to pamper your skin each and every day. Your skin needs moisture and nourishment whether you realize it or not, especially if you live in areas with extreme climates and environmental pollution.
When determining how often you should moisturize your face, you should consider your skin type, your lifestyle, and your environment. Twice a day is an excellent rule of thumb but there’s no rule saying you can’t moisturize your face more often! Figure out what works best for your skin and make it a regular part of your beauty routine.
About the Author
Camille Poggi is a doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD.) and is passionate about skincare and how the skin works in general. She specializes in the cosmetic industry and worked for renowned companies in France like L’Oréal and Chanel before moving to London. After being a training manager for 4 years, Camille is at ease with explaining how products work in the skin and how to adapt her speech according to the audience.
She joined REN in January 2020 as International Training Manager and moved to the Research & Development team earlier this year to be the new Scientific Education Manager. A tailored-made role where she assesses and leads all technical communication and ensures scientific compliance is always met. She’s also involved in new product development from the earliest stages. Finding a way to create sustainable skincare products and making sure the message is properly delivered and understood is definitely a big challenge but also her favourite part working for REN.