Hydrating and moisturizing are some of the most important parts of a good skincare routine. When your skin is sufficiently moisturized it works as a protective barrier for your body by staying elastic. This prevents it from tearing and letting in bacteria and pollutants. Some types of moisturizers are anti-bacterial as well, meaning they heal your skin naturally. More than provide protection, moisture is also what helps our skin regenerate after shedding dead skin cells.
There are three main types of moisturizers.
1. Humectants are hydrants, they draw water from the deeper skin layer to hydrate the top layer of the skin. It’s important to use natural humectants as synthetic humectants will cause long term harm by slowly drying out the lower skin layers.
Examples of natural humectants are alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) like lactic acid which is also an exfoliant (encourages dead skin cells to shed), hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera and raw honey. These humectants are suitable for every skin type.
2. Emollients are moisturizers, they fill up on fats and oils that naturally exist in our skin but lessen with age and exposure to pollution and sun. Filling up these “gaps” locks in the moisture created by the humectants by strengthening the skin’s barrier. It also helps to keep out irritants.
Examples of natural emollients are linoleic acid, oleic acid, argan oil and shea butter. They’re suitable for all skin types.
3. Occlusives seal the moisture by forming a film on the skin that prevents water from evaporating.
Examples of natural occlusives are avocado oil, rosehip oil, hazelnut oil, jojoba oil and beeswax. Occlusives are mostly suitable for extremely dry skin due to their thickness.
When using moisturizers a good rule to go by is to get different products for different moisturizers. Humectants, emollients and occlusives should all pay a separate role in our skincare routine, and the right order to apply them (and other products) in is more important than even I knew before doing a bit of research. The easiest way to remember how to use your products is to start light and gradually go heavier. Like this.
1. Remove your makeup if you wear any.
2. Wash your face with a cleanser. It will remove any left over makeup as well as prevent irritations and breakouts.
3. Use an exfoliator or toner. Chemical exfoliators like AHA peel the top layer of the skin and are best to use at night (and always remember spf the next day). Toners were made to balance the pH levels of the skin after a day of wearing harmful products, but if you use all natural makeup and cleansers using a toner isn’t necessarily needed.
4. Apply treatment products or spot treatment. This can be anything from acne treatment to vitamin serums, antioxidants etc. Only use one product per time to let your skin rest. Only use if you have a specific reason or need.
5. Draw water to the top layer of your skin with a hydrating mist or serum.
6. Smooth your skin and seal in the moisture with an emollient moisturizer or oil.
7. Apply eye cream. Any occlusive works well as eye cream.
1. Wash your face with warm water.
2. Apply treatment products or spot treatment.
3. Use a hydrating mist or serum.
4. Seal in the moisture with a moisturizer.
5. Apply mineral/physical sunscreen.
6. Put on makeup (foundation etc.) if you use it.
The reason the products go from light to heavy is that a lighter product will allow other products to also sink into the skin, while a heavier one works to block the skin and protect it from dirt, bacteria etc.
A few extra things:
A mineral sunscreen like zinc should be applied last as it lays on top of your skin. The problem with chemical sunscreens (the other option) is that they should be used before the moisturizer to work, but they’ll then stop the moisturizer from doing its job. Applied in the opposite order the moisturizer will stop the sunscreen from working. Using a moisturizing chemical sunscreen is a possible solution but a mineral sunscreen will go easier on your skin.
Raw (or Manuka) honey is not only a humectant, it’s also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Honey can because of that be used for moisture or even as a face wash, to relieve irritated skin. It’s even been known to help with acne and healing acne scars.
While reading up on all of this I have taken in some new things into my skincare routine. I’ve started using argan oil after my serum at night and hemp moisturizer in the morning. I learned that Egyptian Magic, the cream I use on my lips and under my eyes at night, is actually perfect for just that, as it contains both honey and beeswax. Other than that I think I’ll try to do a honey face mask once or twice a week to reduce and prevent inflammation in my skin.