Moisturizers

Moisturizers

Moisture content of skin is responsible for keeping it smooth, supple and healthy looking. The topmost layer of skin forms a barrier to the environment and prevents excessive water loss from the deeper layers. Moisture loss still happens because of dry environment, inherent dry skin (which is unable to hold moisture as in kids with atopic eczema, hypothyroidism), use of harsh cleansers and products that disrupt the barrier function.
Does everyone need to use a moisturizer?
Not necessarily. Our skin produces natural moisturizers and in many  people this may be enough. Some people need added moisturisation only in winters, or only on the body and not on the face, or may not need a moisturizer at all. If the skin feels dry, stretched, itchy and flaky after washing, that particular area needs a moisturizer. If you spend all day in an artificially heated or cooled environment, you may need to use a moisturizer more frequently.
What should one use and when?
The process of washing the face with water or bathing can cause loss of moisture by evaporation. This can be prevented by applying oils (not necessarily by massage) before bathing. Soaps that are not pH balanced can disrupt skin barrier, so do gels and abrasives like lufa, pumice stones and washcloths. After bathing, it is important to moisturise right away, so that the moisture is locked in. People with acne prone skin should avoid using oils or petrolatum products on the face, back and shoulders. People with allergies should not use scented/ coloured products. Lotions can be used on the body because they spread easily, light creams on the face and thick, greasy products on palms and soles. If there is severe dryness on palms and soles, a tendency to get cuts and thick scaly skin, products containing humectants like urea and exfoliants like lactic, glycolic or salicylic acid can be used. Wearing socks and gloves after moisturising also helps. A very simple, safe, inexpensive and easily available moisturizer is glycerine, which can be diluted with plain water to achieve a spreadable consistency. 

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