Kim Kardashian’s dermatologist sets the record straight...
Wintry temperatures are like kryptonite to a glowing complexion, even if we are moisturising by the truckload.
Yo-yoing between central heating and cold winds dries out the top layer of skin, giving it a sallow quality, and makes blood vessels contract, which reduces circulation.
And as if that wasn’t depressing enough, even if you are doing this essential piece of the skincare puzzle, chances are you may not be moisturising right, aesthetic doctor Dr Barbara Sturm told Marie Claire.
Turns out, you could be sabotaging your hydration levels if you…
1.Use a face oil
Sturm isn’t alone in her dislike of face oils. Many dermatologists believe they clog pores and upset moisture processes.
‘Instead of being hydrating, oils can have the opposite effect and dry out your skin,’ says Sturm.
It all comes down to the size of the fatty acid molecules that make up the oil. If they’re too big they can only act as an occlusive, protective barrier on the skin’s surface rather than actually penetrating it.
‘This means oils are only effective at preventing water loss when they sit on top of the skin,’ adds Sturm. ‘As soon as they are removed, water loss goes back to its original value. So there are no real moisturising benefits.’
2. Slather on a thick cream
By plying your skin with creamy, unctuous products you could be doing more harm than good.
Over-moisturising, even if you’re using the best moisturiser for dry skin, the surface sends a signal that your skin has enough water, lipids and protein so it starts to produce less hydration and nutrients of its own.
The result? Skin gets lazy and we get trapped in a vicious cycle of applying even richer creams, exacerbating the problem.
There’s another reason to lighten up when moisturising.
According to Sturm, it’s possible to have both dry and oily skin at the same time.
‘Dry skin is caused by a moisture deficiency in the upper layers of the skin, while oily skin is due to increased activity in the sebaceous glands,’ she says.
So you can have very dry skin on the cheeks and neck – areas with less sebaceous glands – but an oily T-zone.
‘Very rich moisturisers will only sit on top of the skin and make your skin sweat underneath, clogging the pores. It’s more important to look for a combination of hydrating ingredients that absorb straight into the skin.’
These include humectants such as glycerin and sorbitol, which attract water molecules and add them back to the skin.
You’ll find them in these three products:
Dr Barbara Sturm Face Cream, £135, Net-A-Porter
Cetaphil Daily Defence Moisturiser, £12.99, Boots
Glossier Priming Moisturizer, £18
3. Apply a cleanser that’s too harsh
Did you know that your best cleanser plays a key role in how often you get spots, how hydrated your skin is and how well it will react to other products in your regime?
The crucial factor is if your skin feels ‘squeaky clean’ and tight after cleansing.
That’s a sure sign that the product you’re using is too harsh and that you’re stripping the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry, itchy and sensitised.
The same is true of overly aggressive face scrubs.
‘It’s important before moisturising that you use a cleanser or a toner that doesn’t dry out your skin,’ says Sturm. ‘All products that exfoliate, cleanse and tone should also have ingredients to hydrate, stabilise the skin barrier and keep your pH slightly acidic.’
To that end, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser Sensitive Skin is ideal while Paula’s Choice SkinPerfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant, is one of the most gentle, non-irritating acids you can find and is perfectly safe for dry skin.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser Sensitive Skin, £12.99, Boots
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant, £28, Lookfantastic
4. Don’t scan the label for hyaluronic acid
Sturm talks about hyaluronic acid being the ‘white T-shirt’ of your skincare regime – an everyday essential that plays nicely underneath whatever else you apply.
Our own skin cells actually produce hyaluronic acid to help them retain moisture but, as we age, those levels take a dip – hello wrinkles and rough texture.
Applied topically, a single gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six litres of water so you can see why Sturm is so obsessed with it.
There’s just one caveat: it is important that hyaluronic acid molecules are formulated in a mix of high and low weight forms.
‘The low molecular weight allows for easier penetration into the skin,’ says Sturm. ‘Once it has reached the collagen and elastin fibres it can bind them with water, improving skin elasticity. The higher weight molecules feed the surface with hydration.’
Dr Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, £235 , Net-A-Porter
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum, £5.99, Lookfantastic
Skinceuticals H.A. Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier, £85, Lookfantastic
5. Skip the moisturising face cream
Yes, we’re also talking to you oily-skinned girls (arm yourselves with the best moisturiser for oily skin) as drying out or over-washing your skin can cause it to produce even more oil.
The rule of thumb for all skin types is to apply the lightest skincare first and the heaviest last, since thinner products can’t penetrate thicker products.
Serums are more concentrated so they go on first.
Then moisturiser locks in all the goodness.
Best face cream for sensitive skin: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream, £50, Cult Beauty
Best face cream for dry skin: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion +, £30, Lookfantastic
Best face cream for oily skin: Augustinus Bader The Cream, £205, Net-A-Porter
‘Serum plus face cream – these two moisturising factors compliment each other and can smooth fine lines by subtly swelling the upper layer of skin,’ says Sturm. ‘Never apply one without the other.’
Now go put your best face forward this winter.