I’m not sitting on the fence with this one or going to bother writing pro’s and cons in an impartial could be would be manner. Just take a minute to think about how the layers of the skin work and the logistics of skin renewal. The bodies largest organ AKA our skin, is in a continual state of repair and rejuvenation. The skin replenishes over a period of 5-6 weeks and can take even longer as we age. I’m going to get a little bit sciencey but nothing beyond secondary school biology.
The skin’s natural rejuvenation cycle is a complex and continuous process that involves various cellular activities aimed at maintaining and renewing the skin’s structure and function. This cycle is primarily regulated by the turnover of skin cells, including the shedding of old or damaged cells and the production of new, healthy cells.
The outermost layer of the skin, called the epidermis, is primarily involved in the skin’s rejuvenation. This layer is composed of different types of cells, including keratinocytes. These are the most abundant cells in the epidermis and play a crucial role in forming a protective barrier. New keratinocytes are continually produced in the lower layers of the epidermis.
Newly formed keratinocytes start their journey in the basal layer of the epidermis, where they undergo maturation. As these cells mature, they migrate towards the skin’s surface, moving through different epidermal layers. In the stratum granulosum, cells undergo further changes, including the accumulation of granules containing substances like keratin.
The final destination for these cells is the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. Once cells reach the stratum corneum, they become flattened, lose their nucleus, and are considered dead. These dead cells, filled with keratin, form the protective barrier of the skin.
Dead skin cells are naturally shed from the surface of the skin in a process known as desquamation. As old cells are shed, new cells from the lower layers replace them, ensuring a continuous cycle of skin renewal.
So what does your skin need?
Beyond the epidermis, the dermis plays a crucial role in skin rejuvenation. Fibroblasts in the dermis produce collagen and elastin, essential proteins that provide structural support and elasticity to the skin. Collagen synthesis helps maintain skin firmness, while elastin allows the skin to stretch and recoil.
Blood vessels in the skin supply essential nutrients and oxygen to support cell turnover and repair processes. The lymphatic system helps remove waste products and toxins from the skin. Hormones, such as oestrogen and growth factors, can influence the skin’s rejuvenation cycle. For instance, hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can impact skin health. Sun exposure, pollution, and other environmental factors can affect the skin’s aging process and its ability to regenerate.
Whether we have a rigorous skin care routine or bare basic wash and go habit, the best results are often gained from medical grade products that are bespoke to your skin type. Moisturiser is almost always the second component after cleansing skin but who says we have to use it? My grandmothers used the Ponds Cold cream, my mother uses Oil of Olay so what motivated them to continue their dedication to a product that may or may not be of any benefit.
Apart from the psychology of targeted marketing it does predominantly come down to the feel rather than look. The short term effects of applying a moisturiser to the skin barrier feels soothing and often the familiar fragrance triggers a release of happy hormone, dopamine. You feel like you’ve ticked a box off your self care especially if you’ve not eaten well that day at least you’ve looked after your skin right?
What the professionals think
Dr. Zein Obagi, a renowned dermatologist, emphasises a distinctive perspective on the use of moisturisers and their effects on the skin. According to Dr. Obagi, the traditional approach to skincare, which often includes heavy reliance on moisturisers, may not align with his philosophy.
Dr. Obagi challenges the conventional belief that constant moisturisation is universally beneficial for the skin. Instead, he advocates for a comprehensive approach that prioritises the restoration of skin health from within. In his view, a focus on repairing and maintaining the skin barrier function is essential, and this can be achieved by addressing underlying issues rather than relying solely on external moisturisers.
He asserts that the skin has the intrinsic ability to retain moisture when it is healthy, and excessive reliance on external moisturisers might hinder the skin’s natural mechanisms. Dr. Obagi suggests a shift towards treat
ments that stimulate collagen production and enhance the skin’s overall health. This includes the use of active ingredients and medical-grade skincare formulations designed to promote skin rejuvenation and resilience.
While Dr. Obagi acknowledges that some individuals may still benefit from occasional moisturiser use, especially in specific climates or conditions, he underscores the importance of tailoring skincare routines to individual needs. For those seeking transformative and long-term improvements, he encourages a focus on medical-grade skincare regimens that prioritise skin health restoration over a reliance on moisturisation alone.
I met Dr. Obagi this year and was fortunate enough to attend one of his lectures on dermatology and skin health. His approach and rational that he offered made complete sense and changed my view on how we should treat our skin to maximise its health potential. Dr. Zein Obagi’s approach challenges the prevailing norms regarding moisturiser use. He emphasises a more holistic strategy centred on enhancing the skin’s natural functions and barrier integrity through targeted treatments and high-quality skincare formulations. His philosophy underscores the importance of individualised skincare, where the emphasis is on promoting skin health and resilience for enduring benefits.
So do you dare step away from traditional norms and try a more scientific evidenced based proven regime for you skin’s health? Would your pillows like a rest from absorbing all those generic creams and lotions? Also a break from the hair washing that follows after a night’s sleep post slugging (this is a cringy trend that requires a totally different post). I love talking skin health and if you would like to discuss yours get in touch with me and we can find the best products for you today.