Can You Over-Moisturise? A Dermatologist Sorts Skin Fact From Fiction

Because moisture is the essence of wetness ...

Your skin is your body's largest organ, so it deserves its fair share of TLC. One of the most popular ways to show your skin some l-o-v-e is by moisturising.

But it's not a one-size-fits-all scenario. According to Dr. Li-Chuen Wong, paediatric and adult Dermatologist at Sydney Skin, how much moisturiser -- and what type -- you slather on depends on your skin type.

But is it possible to moisturising too much? Should we really be putting moisturising on already oily skin? Confused? We are.

Dont worry though, we asked Dr. Wong to busts some common moisturising myths:

Your skin can become tolerant to particular moisturisers ...


This is incorrect. You can’t build up immunity to moisturisers, so don’t worry about having to continually change your skincare routine!

The only thing to be aware of is the change in weather environment -- go for a light sheer lotion in summer and a thicker cream in winter.

The more expensive the product, the better, right?


No, always remember, less is more! Branded and expensive skin care products don’t necessarily work best  -- make sure you check out the ingredients before purchasing.

You’d be surprised how much money you could save but still have healthy and beautiful skin if you stick to a daily moisturising routine, using a product that is suitable for your skin type.
'I only need to moisturise in winter, or whenever I feel dry ...'


Again, incorrect. Keep up the moisturising even when the weather warms up and your skin will continue to feel and look healthy, radiant and supple.

Keeping the skin hydrated at all times can help prevent summer skin dryness due to sun, surf and water exposure. It is important to moisturise before and after any water activities, as being in water (be it seawater or pool water) dries out your skin.

Moisturise from top to toe with a layer of lotion before a swim and once you jump out. This will help prevent further loss of moisture and replenish the skin’s hydration.

'The longer I shower, the more moisturised and hydrated my skin will be ...'


Incorrect. On the surface of our skin is a moisturizing layer that acts like a natural skin barrier.

Excessive water will strip, dehydrate and disturb this top skin barrier so please don’t take long showers. Three minutes is my recommended shower time to avoid drying out your skin.

Moisturising is all about timing as well. Moisturise straight after a shower when your skin is slightly damp because water then can trap in the moisturiser, giving better results.

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Now that that's all cleared up (pun most certainly intended) what's the best way to care for each skin type?

Normal skin, for example, is not sensitive, not affected by eczema or psoriasis, and has a normal pH balance of about 5.5. It isn’t flaky, has good blood circulation giving a healthy skin colour, minimal pore size and is able to retain moisture.

Sounds pretty perfect. Too perfect ...

"You can’t really always have normal skin," Dr. Wong told 10 daily. "As we age, our skin will dry out. As circumstances like the environment or our health change, our skin will reflect this."

Okay, so how do we find out what type of skin we actually have? Does it involve sitting in a dimly lit room and attempting to 'get in touch' with our skin? Is there a mantra we have to chant?

Er, no. Just have a look in a well-lit mirror, and keep your eye out for these tell-tale skin-defining signs.

Dry skin

People with a dry skin type often experience that flaky, tight feeling, which leaves skin prone to irritation because the skin barrier is broken.

The clinical name for dry skin is xerosis, Dr. Wong told 10 daily.

"It’s very important to get moisture into this type skin to prevent allergens from penetrating, and to avoid irritation and contracting a secondary allergic reaction."

Dry skin care tips

Moisturising is vital for those with dry skin, according to Dr. Wong. Lotions with naturally active ingredients such as oats and colloidal oatmeal will help seal the skin barrier and prevent further loss of moisture.

"Depending on seasonality and your surrounding environment, those with dry skin should lean towards choosing a thicker cream -- that will give stronger moisturising effects," was Dr. Wong's tip.

Oily skin

Oily skin is a a fun feature of puberty, where skin experiences excess oil production, prominent pores, and is prone to acne and breakouts.

Oily skin care tips

"Choose lighter lotions that won’t block pores," was Dr. Wong's advice for those with this skin type.

The high humidity level in the warmer months can cause excess sweat and oil production, so again, stick to a lighter sheer lotion that will still provide skin hydration.

A thick greasy lotion can cause occlusion of hair follicles and can further block pores, leading to a skin breakout.

Combination skin

"This typically refers to the skin type that combines an oily T-zone area and normal or dry skin on the cheeks," Dr. Wong said.

Combination skin care tips

Go for a non-greasy light weight moisturiser that will not irritate the oily T-zone, but will at the same time be hydrating enough for the dry skin area.

There are two types of moisturising ingredients that you should look for when searching for a good moisturiser -- emollients and humectants.

"Humectants are used to reduce the loss of moisture. They are molecules that will absorb water from the top layer of the skin as well as from the environment. These molecules then make our skin feel moist and supple," Dr. Wong told 10 daily.

"Emollients instead helps restore our skin barrier by “filling in the gaps” between our skin cells."

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Extremely sensitive skin, and skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis

According to Dr. Wong, the change of season can cause unwarranted skin flares for those with sensitive skin.

"The high level of pollen, humidity and warmer weather makes skin more sensitive and prone to flare ups, break outs and itchiness."

Sensitive skin care tips

First up, avoid fragrances at all cost -- whether natural or synthetic.

"Fragrances can be irritants leading to redness, inflamed and itchy skin. I suggest choosing products that are fragrance-free and soap-free -- and you can easily find these in supermarkets or pharmacies," Dr. Wong said.

"I often suggest to my clients to use oat-based moisturisers. Colloidal oats offer numerous therapeutic benefits for our skin. Oats have been renowned for centuries for their nourishing, soothing and naturally moisturising properties."

Products that contain finely milled oats -- such as AVEENO Daily Moisturising Lotion -- have a naturally strengthening effect on dry, irritated skin. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and they contain natural itch relieving benefits. They pull moisture from the atmosphere into the skin thereby reinforcing the skin barrier.

To put it simply, oats help seal the skin’s barrier to prevent further loss of moisture.

Yay for oats!

Feature image: Getty.