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Moisturizing isn’t just about making your skin look great. As the body’s largest organ, your skin plays a vital role in protecting your bones, muscles and organs. It also regulates your body temperature, naturally sheds bacteria from your pores and – thanks to its thousands of nerve endings – allows you to feel harmful things such as extreme heat, cold and pain. That’s why keeping your skin hydrated is so important to your overall health.
Many users think moisturizing can make acne or oily skin worse, but the truth is, your skin needs a certain amount of oil (sebum) to keep it balanced, healthy and soft. Your body already provides natural oils to hydrate your skin and when pores are clear, these oils flow from the inside of the follicle to lubricate your skin’s surface while shedding excess dead skin cells. It’s only when the sebaceous glands make too much sebum that you run the risk of breakouts because excess oil causes dead skin cells to stick together and become trapped inside the pore along with bacteria, resulting in acne. Excess oil can sometimes be the body’s response to skin that is imbalanced or dehydrated so you can see why it’s important to moisturize on a daily basis and to use the right moisturizer for your needs.
In addition to using the right moisturizer, one of the easiest ways to nourish your skin is to drink plenty of water on a daily basis. Staying hydrated on the inside can definitely help hydrate the outside. Same goes for eating a healthy diet that includes foods which promote healthy, soft skin such as avocado (essential fatty acids), papaya (antioxidants), salmon (omega 3 fatty acids), or nuts (rich in vitamin E). If you live in a dry climate or environment, using a humidifier can add moisture to the air which, in turn, can help keep your skin soft. Other best practices that will reduce dryness include using water-based makeup, choosing mild, gentle skin cleansers and avoiding skin care products that contain fragrance or alcohol.
Keeping your skin moisturized and hydrated is always important, but it is especially so while using a retinoid to treat acne. And because retinoids help balance skin cell turnover, it takes time to see the results, requiring a period of adjustment for your skin. During this period (called retinization) some users may experience dry, red or irritated skin. This can happen whether your skin type is dry, normal, oily or combination.
If you are not experiencing retinization, then you can probably maintain your current moisturizing regimen. If you are experiencing redness, dryness or irritated skin while using a retinoid, then try using a gentle, non-medicated moisturizer before applying the retinoid. Always make sure your moisturizer is noncomedogenic (non-clogging) and that your daytime moisturizer contains SPF 15 sunscreen or higher. Using a moisturizer keeps your skin soft and hydrated which helps maintain balanced, healthy skin cell turnover. When that process is functioning properly, skin looks great and acne is less likely.