“My skin is oily and acne-prone. Shouldn’t I be laying off moisturiser?”
It’s a question I commonly get asked, and growing up a lot of us are indoctrinated with the popular fallacy that moisturiser and oily skin don’t go together. We cleanse to remove excess oil, dirt and grime from our skin. Because a lot of these things we don’t want on our skin aren’t water-soluble, most cleansers employ ingredients called ‘surfactants’ to help get rid of them. While you may not know what surfactants are, you’re probably well aware of surfactants popularly found in skincare products, especially sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which have gotten a bad rap in recent years. (Whether or not they deserve the bad rap they’ve gotten is a topic for later discussion.)
These surfactants attach to oil soluble substances and allow them to subsequently be rinsed off your skin. While cleansing is essential for your skin, rinsing the surface layer of lipids from your skin means your skin is more easily able to lose water, which is absolutely essential for its health, via evaporation. In order to compensate for this water loss, your skin goes into overdrive producing even more oil so your oily skin actually ends up oilier and if acne is a problem you face, the excessive oil production leads to more clogged pores and subsequently, acne that’s worse than it was before.
Using a moisturiser after you cleanse takes care of these problems by returning lipids to your skin and helping it retain water. So the short answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post is: yes, you definitely need moisturiser even if your skin is oily and acne-prone.
While using a moisturiser is essential, it’s also important that you’re using the right moisturiser for your skin type, so next week we’ll be discussing how you should choose a moisturiser that’s right for your skin. Stay tuned!