Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Importance of Moisturizing

If you think regularly using moisturizer on your skin is just for the ladies, or just to feel pretty, you are dead wrong.  Moisturizing is absolutely vital to healthy skin. 

The human skin is the body's largest organ and requires regular attention to stay young, healthy and free of problems. Moisturizers prevent and treat dry skin.  They also protect sensitive skin, improve skin tone and texture, and mask imperfections.

At the most basic level, moisturizers hold water in the outermost layer of skin.  They also act as a temporary barrier, keeping in your own natural skin oils, hindering evaporation, and warding off exposure to the elements.  They also soften rough or dry patches, because that crocodile look is so not appealing.

What Moisturizer to Use

Using lotion or moisturizer on a daily basis should be part of any good skin care routine, but some are better than others. The moisturizer that's best for you depends on several factors, including your skin type, your age, and whether you have specific conditions (hello acne).  Generally choose a lotion with vitamins and sun protection (SPF 15 or more).
  • Vitamin A and Vitamin B5 increase firmness and build moisture levels.
  • Anti-Oxidant Vitamins C and E help protect new skin and fight skin damage.
  • PABA-Free SPF 15 sunscreens help prevent premature lines and wrinkles.
Take into consideration your own personal skin type too.  General guidelines are:
  • Normal skin. Normal skin is not too dry and not too oily. To maintain this natural moisture balance, use a water-based moisturizer that has a light, nongreasy feel. 
  • Dry skin. To restore moisture to dry skin, choose a heavier, oil-based moisturizer that contains ingredients that help keep your skin hydrated. For very dry and cracked skin, look for a richer shea butter or cocoa butter type moisturizer which has more staying power than creams do and are more effective at preventing water from evaporating from your skin.
  • Oily skin. Oily skin is prone to acne and breakouts. Though oily, such skin still needs moisture, especially after using skin care products that remove oils and dry out the skin. A light moisturizer can also help protect your skin after washing. Choose a water-based product that's labeled noncomedogenic, which means it won't clog pores.
  • Sensitive skin. Sensitive skin is susceptible to skin irritations, redness, itching or rashes. Look for a moisturizer that contains soothing ingredients, such as chamomile or aloe, and doesn't contain potential irritants, such as fragrances, dyes, preservatives, chemicals galore. Also, avoid products containing acids, which can irritate sensitive skin.
  • Mature skin. As you age, your skin tends to become drier because your oil-producing glands become less active. To keep your skin soft and well hydrated, choose an oil-based moisturizer, along with antioxidants or alpha hydroxy acids to combat wrinkles. These ingredients help hold in moisture and prevent flaky, scaly skin.
Skin type can vary quite a lot - it's not set for life.  Things like environment, hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy and menopause, and disease can change your natural skin type temporarily.
When to Moisturize
The most important times to use moisturizer are after a shower, bath, shaving or exfoliation, even if this is a couple of times a day. Moisturizing after a shower is important because hot water strips moisture and oils out of your skin, leaving it parched and dry. While hot water may be relaxing, it also wreaks havoc on your skin. Don't skip the moisturizer.
Moisturizing Helps Skin Stay Young and Reduces Skin Problems
The skin on your face, ears, neck and chest are very sensitive to environmental changes and are the most frequent areas of the body known to develop skin cancer. These areas of skin shed cells more rapidly than the rest of your body, so they need moisture to do their repair work, and that allows for younger skin cells to rise to the surface (that fresh, healthy look). The gentle massaging action that happens as you're applying your moisturizer helps stimulate blood circulation and new cell generation. 
Moisturizing everyday can reduce the chance of developing extreme dryness or oiliness. Absolutely counter-intuitive, but over-washing and/or using too many harsh, drying acne or blemish creams can actually cause acne. Skin needs to keep a certain natural balance, and your oil glands will begin to produce more oils - actually over-producing oils to compensate, causing more trouble than you started with. So even if you're fighting zits, continue to moisturize daily.
Quick Tips for A Natural Glow
  • Watch the water temperature – Hot showers and baths are not good for your skin. Shower for a shorter amount of time and with warm water. You’ll see the difference in your skin.
  • Pat dry, don’t rub dry—After a shower gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing your skin dry. Your skin will stay just a tad bit damp which will be sealed in when you moisturize, giving you a bigger boost.  Rubbing is just irritating anyway.
  • Drink more water – the moisture your skin receives also comes from your body. Yep, that 8 cups a day rule. Or at least close to that. And eating clean never hurt either.
  • Use really good soap - Handmade with the best ingredients (like mine) wouldn't hurt :)
  • Use a humidifier – If you live in a dry place or during winter months when the heated air is quite dry, a humidifier can add much needed moisture to the air.
  • Give extra special attention to your hands — hands show the affects of a dry environment more than any other part of the body. Apply lotion (or a great natural salve or balm) after hand washing.
  • Wear sunscreen when outdoors – nothing will save your skin more than protecting it from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Wear a low, or high, SPF sunscreen depending on your outdoor activities.
  • Apply lip balm regularly — applying a good, natural lip balm frequently helps heal dry, cracked lips. 
  • Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!