It’s time to break this rule: Throw Away your Moisturiser!

Only 15% of the population medically requires moisturises but research shows that 80% of people, mainly women, uses moisturisers daily to address dryness.

A Doctor, expert in skin antiaging, is supposed to encourage you to moisturise, right? If I tell you to throw away your moisturiser, you’d think I’ve lost my mind! Well, I haven’t. In fact, my mind has been blown away! After years of studying skin aging mechanisms, scientists have discovered that using moisturisers daily will lead to a weak and sensitive skin that will age faster!

Think for a moment. For most people, applying moisturiser every day is as automatic as brushing their teeth. However, the majority of them will still report dry and sensitive skin. Also, moisturizing won’t stop their wrinkles to appear over the years! Moisturising is an old concept of skincare. In other words, most moisturisers make the skin feel good but do not give it any real benefits. Instead, skin will be more prone to develop diseases, dry out and age faster. Why does this happen?

When we consider how skin cells work, the answer is very clear and makes total sense! Our skin is perfectly capable of hydrating itself. Skin hydration is defined as “the water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) and the dermis (the inner layer of the skin)”. Approximately 30% of water present in the skin is located in the epidermis while 70% is accumulated in the dermis.

The dermis collects this large quantity of water from within our body (from the food we eat and the water we drink) and delivers it to the above layer, the epidermis. Therefore, our skin actively hydrates itself by drawing moisture from the inside of the body to its surface. When we provide external moisture, especially a rich cream or oil, the cells in the epidermis send a message to the cells in the dermis to chill out.

Why? Because the cells feel fat, happy, & hydrated from the moisturiser. This causes the cells in the dermis to become lazy…why work when they don’t have to? When the cells go dormant, the skin gets drier, thin, & loses its elasticity. At that point, the skin becomes fully dependent on a moisturiser and in medicine we call it “moisturiser addiction”.

To fix the problem, you need to detox your skin from the moisturiser. But there is more. Moisturisers stop the skin’s natural exfoliation process too. Normally the skin’s surface is renewed every 6 weeks, but from age 25 this process slows. Dead cells gather on the skin’s surface, making it rough and dull. When people first notices this, they assume it is caused by dryness, so buy a light moisturiser.

The skin stops producing its own moisture and their skin start to feel tight after the shower, so they buy a thicker moisturiser. To add to their problems, moisturisers stick dead cells to the skin’s surface. And oils will clog pores, contributing to acne and rosacea. The accumulation of dead cells on the surface of the skin will causes mother cells in the deeper layer to stop dividing and creating new cells, slowing down the natural skin exfoliation process. What they really needed was an exfoliator!

To sum up, moisturisers on skin surface create three types of problems:

  1. Weaken the barrier function (making skin sensitive and weak) due to the disturbance of natural water/lipids/proteins that exist in the skin, and stop the natural delivery of water and nutrients from the body to skin leading to dehydration.
  2. False (acquired) dryness and addiction
  3. Slows down cellular activity (renewal) that accelerates skin aging in the long-term.

Although I want our skin to function at optimal levels, there will be times when a moisturiser is inevitable. Moisturisers are effective in case of dry skin syndromes like eczema or xerosis; after receiving a laser treatment or a chemical peel, since it will help the healing process; in case of extreme dryness from a skin medication, such as retinoic acid; while traveling: dry climates or airplanes can dehydrate the skin.

The bottom line? Only use moisturiser if you truly require it. It feels lovely to apply and it seems to, at least in the moment, solve the issue of dryness. But it’s not actually providing long-term hydration. Of course, it will be uncomfortable to make the change but a moisturiser-free regimen will lead you to a better skin.  Train your mind to deal with the discomfort.

As Dr. Zein Obagi says,


I wish you all the best,
Dr. Valeria Acampora