Should you nix the moisturizer from your facial skin care routine?
We’ve all probably grown up with the cleanse-tone-moisturize routine drilled into us the moment an unwelcome blemish popped up. But a dermatologist is egging you on to scrap moisturizing from your routine, claiming it can potentially damage the skin in the long run.
Refinery29 talked with Zein Obagi, M.D., a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist and founder of skin-care line ZO Skin Health, who is of the opinion that moisturizers ‘run the risk of making skin older, not younger.’
“If you apply a lot of moisture, skin will become sensitive, dry, dull, and interfere with natural hydration,” says Dr. Obagi.
Dr. Obagi believes that using moisturizers makes the skin ‘addicted’ to it, and the body outright stops supplying it with God-given natural moisturizing juice. (Lol that reads weird but I’m out of adjectives.)
It seems to be the same principle that most dermatologists advise: if you have oily skin and are scrubbing it too hard or too often in an effort to zap the oil, the body will rebel and produce more oil to compensate.
“Almost zero percent of my patients actually requires a moisturizer,” he explains. “All your skin really needs is cleansing, stimulation, and protection.” He adds that even the seasons don’t matter, but can you imagine not slapping on some thick cream during the winter? Gasp!
He admits that it takes a lot of unlearning, and that it takes his patients between three to six weeks to notice any real difference.
“As you break the addiction, you may feel dry and irritable,” he admits to Refinery29. “Your skin may feel like it’s missing something or like it’s stinging or burning, depending on how long you were using moisturizer.”
But he assures it’ll be worth it. “When patients come back in about five weeks, they thank me. It wakes up the skin and gets the cells to start working in harmony.”
But despite his claim, other skin experts are wary of it.
“I have the greatest respect for Dr. Obagi, I think he’s a genius, and I don’t disagree with him on some level,” said NYC-based dermatologist Doris Day, MD. “But when it comes to skin hydrating itself sufficiently, some people’s can and some people’s can’t.”
Factor in genetics, and combine that with everyday elements like pollution, stress, and even medication; and your skin will be needing all the help it can get, she said.
“The more you support your skin — sometimes by using hydrators and moisturizers — the more easily you can have healthy, beautiful, resilient skin.”
But as with many things, Dr. Obagi still has a grey area to his no-moisturizer rule: when you’re in extreme temperatures or in a moisture-sucking long haul plane ride, then it’s important to have that little bit of barrier between you and the elements, but the everyday regimen is what he would not recommend.
His recommended routine? “Always wash your face, use a gentle exfoliating agent to enhance elimination, and some kind of active vitamin A to stimulate regeneration, and if you still feel dry, then you can apply a special moisturizer,” he tells Refinery29.
Will this inspire you to skip on the moisturizer?