too much moisturizer

You Might Be Applying Too Much Moisturizer

Here’s what will actually keep dry skin at bay this winter.

We’ve always assumed that one of the most important tenets of winter skin care is applying copious amounts of moisturizer. But despite layering our favorite formulas across our parched faces day after day, week after week, we still experience irritation, dryness, and the occasional breakout. So what gives? Especially if the culprit is a tried-and-true moisturizer that never causes any issues in the warmer months? Well, it’s possible that using more of a beloved cream isn’t the best for your skin, and it may even be causing more harm than good. Turns out, too much moisturizer is a thing, with some caveats.

To learn more about this winter-skin revelation, we spoke with aesthetician Reneé Rouleau for her expert advice on how to stay optimally hydrated and got recommendations for moisturizers that really work.

Is adding extra moisturizer to your winter skin-care routine a good tactic?

“No. When there is little to no humidity in the air, the skin is desperately trying to retain its moisture levels, so in theory, you can’t use too much since moisture evaporation is occurring. However, it’s important to know that applying layers and layers of moisturizer at one time isn’t the best strategy because your skin can only absorb so much. Not all moisturizers are well formulated to have a lasting effect, so it’s not uncommon for the skin to feel tight hours after application. Dry air certainly contributes to this as well. But you can reapply during the day if you feel like you need it.”

Is there a rule of thumb for the amount of moisturizer someone with normal, dry, or combination skin should be using?

“The size of a nickel is adequate for winter.”

How does your skin react when you use too much moisturizer?

“Your skin is like a sponge in that it takes in what it needs and the rest sits on top. When you apply an extra layer of moisturizer, this may be wasteful since the skin can only absorb so much. As for blemish-prone skin types, too much of the wrong type of moisturizer may cause congestion, bumps, and breakouts, so one must be especially careful when choosing a formula. Always choose one for your skin type.”

What do you look for in a quality moisturizer for winter?

“One that has the most effective hydrating ingredients that actually repair the lipid barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss. Some of my favorite moisturizer ingredients for repairing dry, flaky winter skin are safflower, soybean, sweet almond, carrot, borage, and sunflower oils, as well as ceramides and linoleic acid. Unlike other types of moisturizing ingredients used in skin-care formulations, these ingredients will actually correct the lack of oil and lack of hydration deep within your skin and repair your skin’s lipid moisture barrier to make [it] moist, supple, and smooth.”

How does the formulation of the moisturizer affect the amount that is able to be absorbed by the skin?

“If it’s oil-free and more water-based, it will absorb faster, leaving less of a feel on the skin. If it’s more oil-based, then you’ll feel the oil on the surface of the skin. If someone is drier, something with oil will be better since oil creates a seal over the skin to do a better job at retaining moisture.”

Instead of using more moisturizer, what other products would you recommend for keeping your skin hydrated?

“Pure treatment oils are really in demand these days. An oil gives the skin an instant moist and dewy glow. Patting an oil over moisturizer as the last step in your routine is a great way to add another protective barrier. This helps prevent moisture evaporation, especially in dry climates. I recommend Pro Remedy Oil to all of my dry-skin clients.”

How long should you test a moisturizer to see if it’s right for you?

“You should have a good feel of your moisturizer after using it for a week.”

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