Stepping up your moisturizer game

Step up your moisturizer game by understanding how our skin & moisturizers work! By no means this is only for girls because, believe it or not, some guys have dry skin too...

(Disclaimer: This post won't be suitable for those with constant flaky or scaling skin, or that your skin is so dry that the skin is peeling off. Please see a dermatologist or a doctor if that's the case 😔)

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It is during winter when we constantly feel that our skin is dry. Not only is the (1) air humidity lower, what’s adding to that is that (2) most soaps* are more alkaline than our natural skin acidity, and disrupting the pH can affect the skin's ability to hold in moisture, hence dryness and irritability. What's not helping is we always use (3) very hot water to shower!


So what do we do?? We must shower....

We put on moisturisers right after shower, how about putting them on BEFORE shower? (no harm done just trying right???)👯 Research** has suggested that skin pre-treating skin with moisturizers can help maintain the hydration better vs without moisturizers. Well, they quoted another study too but I didn't look into that. 🤷

Their moisturizer used in the experiment were emollients, which is some kind of oil or lipids that hydrate and improve skin softness, blah blah. I'm not going to use anything complicated (and I kind of want to stick with my #minimalistskincare goal of using as few ingredients as possible), so I'm proposing to use jojoba oil / coconut oil! But honestly, you can use your existing cream!

💡Emollients & occlusives

Emollients and occlusives (some stuff that blocks water from evaporating from your skin, a more fancy word being 'transepidermal water loss') are different, so you definitely need to consider putting on creams with occlusives like beeswax right after shower (why right after shower? check out my previous post!)

Because emollients behave kind of like occlusives in the sense that it can act as a protective shield when used in higher concentrations (and using pure oils are like..100% emollients lol), it's possible that compared with not using emollients, your skin can have lower hydration level after shower - you're blocking moisture from going in! But the trade off is, you're blocking water from GETTING OUT too. :) 


Your existing cream will do... but if I really have to say something...

Because the cream that I use to put on is quite watery, I really don't see the point of putting it on before shower, knowing that I'm going to wash it away immediately. No science backed but my instinct tells me to find something more 'oily' and less watery😂.. So because I have both jojoba oil & coconut oil at home, so I just went ahead and used them. 

(NOTE: You know, sometimes our perception is unreliable. This study [3] found that respondents thought a cream is more moisturizing than the other, when a meter measuring skin hydration actually says the opposite. Sometimes a cream feels moisturizing doesn't mean it is, it can be that it makes your skin smoother, that's why you think it's more moisturizing!) So the below is only based on my perception. I haven't got a moisture meter...


Why Jojoba oil

  • Quickly absorbed
  • Won't solidify in winter
  • Less likely to go rancid (this is what I've learnt from my organic skincare formulation course, and similar here)

Why NOT Coconut oil

  • Not absorbed quickly so I kind of feel that it's easily washed off, which loses the whole point
  • One down side is that the floor feels oily after so it's easy to slip in the bath tub >.<
  • It solidifies in winter.. how inconvenient
  • Actually coconut oil also is relatively stable and has a long shelf life!

Finally - Take note

Happy experimenting at home!! I have a few more tips:

If you are eager to try oils - try experimenting on your limbs first where it’s relatively dry.

If you want to do it on your hair too, test putting the oil on hair ends. My hair defo feels oily during the day, so don't put too much!

Don’t put too much on your face or back where there’s greater sebum production -  too much oil can cause acne!


Happy moisturizing! xoxo


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If you're the geeky one...

* Common stuff like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS - check your shampoo & body wash) are known skin irritants and of course depending on the dosage and exposure time, it can "provoke skin dryness, roughness, tightness... This is related to the potential of surfactants to denature proteins in the stratum corneum (i.e. the topmost layer of the epidermis, which is the topmost layer of skin), solubilize intercellular skin liqpids, increase the skin pH, and increase TEWL" [1]

**n=12 of Caucasian women aged 53 to 70 years old. The moisturizer they used were emollients (which is some kind of oil or lipids that hydrate and improve skin softness [2])



[1] - Roure, R., Lanctin, M., Nollent, V., and Bertin, C. (2012). Methods to Assess the Protective Efficacy of Emollients against Climatic and Chemical Aggressors, Dermatology Research and Practice, vol. 2012, Article ID 864734

[2] - Sethi, A., Kaur, T., Malhotra, SK, Gambhir, ML. (2016). Moisturizers: the slippery road. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 61 (3), 279-287.

[3] Dykes, P.J. (2002). What are meters measuring? International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 24, 241-245.