The second way to love your skin is to keep it hydrated! Again, I feel like most people use lotions and moisturizers, but many people don’t hydrate properly or enough. When skin is dry, its natural protective barrier is affected, which can:
*Make wrinkles & fine lines more noticeable
*Exacerbate the rough skin texture common to aging skin
*Cause skin to become oily (see myth #1 below)
*Become chapped, cracked and/or irritated & sensitive
Before diving into best practices, let’s talk about two common hydration myths:
Myth #1: Oily & acne prone skin does not need moisturizer. Additional lotion will make it worse.
This is an often-heard comment that is completely false. The opposite is true! If you have oily skin and you leave it be after cleansing, the skin will actually produce MORE oil to offset the perceived “dryness.” Apply a light, oil-free moisturizer right after cleansing to prevent this.
Myth #2: Any ol’ moisturizer will do.
There are many moisturizers that are great for most skin types, so this is completely false, but it’s a thought that is not true for everyone. If you have a specific skin condition, be it acne or eczema or psoriasis, you may need to get a moisturizer or lotion that is specifically designed to target your skin type. Any lotion may work, but you may experience more relief or better results with a product tailored to your skin’s needs. We’re not saying you have to get the most expensive product out there, just to keep in mind that certain ingredients common to “regular” moisturizers may be either more beneficial or alternatively more irritating to your skin type without you fully realizing this.
Okay, with the myths out of the way, what are some best practices for keeping skin hydrated?
*Moisturize as soon as after cleansing as possible, just after you pat yourself dry (for face & body alike). This will help trap the moisture from your shower (or facial cleansing) in the skin and boost the overall hydration. The one change to this is if you have some sort of topical medication or serum (including antiaging serums); apply those prior to your moisturizer.
*Apply moisturizer under your sunscreen. Bravo for remembering your sunscreen! Unless you have a “moisturizing sunscreen” or a “sunscreen lotion” or similar, the typical sunscreen focuses on sun protection, not moisturizing, so applying a separate moisturizer first can help keep your skin from drying out. Or, of course, you can get a combination product, but remember to apply liberally to get full SPF.
*Remember neglected areas. The neck, décolleté, hands & feet are often forgotten when people apply their lotions, leading to these areas looking especially dry. Hangnails and cracking skin are especially common to hands & feet. Also, focus in on elbows & knees which can become scaly & rough. For these areas especially (hands, feet, elbows, knees), you may want either a thicker moisturizer or just pay special attention to them.
*Take your skin type into account. We touched on this above in the Myths section. Your skin may have different needs than the average person’s skin, such as needing stronger (or gentler) ingredients, more or less oils, etc.
*Look at the key words. Piggybacking on the point above, the type of moisturizer is important. If you have dry or aging skin, you may want to look for a heavier option, usually designated by words like “cream,” “heavy” or “thick” to ensure \that you are getting all of the hydration your skin needs. If you have oilier skin, you want to avoid those and go for something lighter that says “oil-free,” “light” and/or “non-comedogenic.”