Do you really need to moisturise your skin?

We speak to an expert to get the lowdown

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / February 19 2019

There’s A LOT of confusion out there regarding moisturisers. Every so often you’ll see an article pop up with a skin expert making a controversial statement that not every skin type needs to use a moisturiser. Then there are even some derms out there saying no-one needs moisturiser.

So, what’s the go? Do we actually need to moisturise morning and night? Or are we wasting our precious time slathering pricey lotions on our faces?

Well, according to Olay’s Head Scientist Dr David Khoo, one thing is for certain: Applying moisturiser will make your skin look and feel better.

Why moisturise?

“Imagine a raisin,” says Dr Khoo, “The skin cells can shrivel up like a raisin from a lack of moisture, but when they’re full of moisture, they become plumper – and that improves the elasticity of your skin, the bounce of your skin and the overall radiance,” he says.

“We know that there are certain enzymes in your skin that are critical for renewal. You have all the skin cells on the surface of your skin, and those particular enzymes will help clear away dead skin cells. If those enzymes do not have enough water, they don’t work and your skin accumulates dead cells. So, we know that water is absolutely critical for the healthy appearance and functioning of the skin,” explains Dr Khoo.

Although the most obvious skin type to moisturise is dry skin, Dr Khoo says that oily skin can still get dehydrated. He notes that no matter what your skin type, moisturising and giving your skin a boost of hydration will help maintain barrier health.

What happens to your skin if you don’t moisturise?

According to Dr Khoo, not moisturising can lead to some seriously unpleasant side effects for your skin. What’s worse, it could lead to long-lasting skin damage. Eek! 

“If you don’t use a moisturiser, your skin can very quickly go into what we call the ‘dry skin cycle’,” says Dr Khoo. He explains that if your skin’s hydration levels become too low, “your skin takes on this vicious cycle where it rapidly builds up dead skin cells on the surface. And because there are more layers of dead skin cells, it’s even more difficult to hydrate your skin. Any skin care products that you’re using will then just stay on the surface of your skin.”

“The other thing that can happen is that if your skin doesn’t feel like it has the energy and nourishment it needs, skin renewal slows down. Therefore, your skin becomes less radiant and sometimes dark spots become a bit more noticeable and a bit more prominent.”

“The converse is – it’s kind of like asking yourself, ‘Can I get by with just a piece of bread on a daily basis? Or a cup of water?’ when there’s all of these other great foods and nutrients available. Consequently, why wouldn’t you do things for your skin that would enhance your skin’s health? Moisturising your skin will make it look more radiant and give it a finer texture.” 

What kind of moisturiser should you be looking for?

Dr Khoo says one of the main classes of ingredients you should be looking out for in a moisturiser are vitamins. “You have the well-known ones, like vitamin A (delivered through retinol), vitamin C (both an antioxidant and a collagen stimulant), and vitamin E (also an antioxidant and it also helps to seal in moisture).”

“One of my favourite ingredients is niacinamide. Olay have actually been leaders in discovering the use of niacinamide – in fact, we’re one of the first to use niacinamide in a skin care product. It took decades for people to recognise its value.” 

“However, we’re not the only ones talking about it these days. You’ve got a lot of other universities – including the University of Sydney and their professors there – that have devoted their careers to understanding the impact of niacinamide in terms of protecting the skin from UV damage,” says Dr Khoo. “I highly recommend niacinamide in your skin care.”

Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) can repair DNA, reduce damage caused by environmental factors (including UV rays), and prevent damage to collagen. It also works to stop pigmentation, while evening out skin tone and reducing inflammation in the skin.

Dr Khoo also says to look out for antioxidants and peptides, as well as any hydrating components such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid in your moisturising formula.

Looking for a new moisturiser? For oily skin we like Simple Clear Skin Oil Balancing Moisturiser. For something with sun protection, we suggest trying out Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser SPF 50+, or if you’re after a moisturiser packed with anti-ageing ingredients (like niacinamide), try Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturiser.

Still haven't found your fit? Check out some of the best face moisturisers voted by our Beauty Crew team and SUPERcrew members.

Do you use moisturiser in your daily skin care routine? Let us know in the comment section below.

Main image credit: Getty

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.