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Is Moisturizer Antiquated in 2020?
Skin Care / Injectables / Botox

Is Moisturizer Antiquated in 2020?

Written by
Juli Albright
Juli is our patient advocate and community connection. She balances work, life and family with grace.
Juli is our patient advocate and community connection. She balances work, life and family with grace.

Is Moisturizer Antiquated in 2020?

A little background...

For all of my adult life, I have slathered on the face and body cream and many other beauty products. Dry to normal skin was my classification with emphasis on dry. I tried so many face creams especially when I was in Iowa during the winters (which was especially dry). Once I was introduced to medical grade skin care, I found a  which I loved. I was convinced this healed my skin and locked in moisture. One time after a harsh chemical peel when I ran out of moisturizer, I asked the office manager (thank you Nicole!) to come in on the weekend so I could purchase some more!  I knew the drug store variation would do more harm than good. When we were evaluating skin care lines for the San Antonio practice, I was very skeptical that moisturizer is no longer advised in the normal skin care routine. Even though I am not a medical professional, I decided to try it for myself. After two weeks of going without, I am hooked and my skin is glowing!

History of Moisturizer

Egyptians first used honey and milk to moisturize skin and Greeks used different oils. During the Medieval times, they used animal fats. The first cold cream was created in Europe using rose oil, water, and melted beeswax. In the 1900s, there was an explosion of skin care products. Zein Obagi, MD, who founded the Obagi skin care line over 30 years ago and then started ZO Skin Health in 2006, says "my feeling is there is abuse of moisturizer because it is so easy to formulate and sell. The brainwashing started in the late '50s and '60s from all the cosmetic companies. They sold everyone that idea that you will dry and age. This is absolutely nonsense.”

Is moisturizer bad for you?

According to Dr. Obagi, using moisturizer is a waste of time and money and may potentially damage your skin. “When you use moisturizer every day, you run the risk of making your skin older, not younger,” he warned. “If you apply a lot of moisture, skin will become sensitive, dry, dull, and interfere with natural hydration.” We have all applied moisturizer at night and then washed it off in the morning to quickly have dry skin again. Sometimes moisturizer can lock in dead skin cells and prevent natural exfoliation. Dr. Obagi believes the skin gets addicted to this superficial moisturizer and gets lazy about supplying its own hydration from within the body. Your natural skin hydration will keep your skin healthy and young...well along with a good skin care routine! Is there scientific proof of this? A recent article in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology by Dr. Draelos studied 35 women who followed a simple skin care regime of a gentle cleanser, exfoliater, and oil control pads. By four weeks, there were significant improvements in hydration and surface oils. By eight weeks, clarity and radiance had improved drastically.

So to be honest, I was still skeptical. After doing further research on the internet, many dermatologists do recommend using moisturizer for people with severely dry skin and eczema. Some also recommend hyaluronic acid supplements to help your skin bind to water. In the last few years since using medical grade skin care and Vitamin A or retinol products, I know my skin has gotten healthier and "thicker." Often if I go for a facial, the aestheticians will comment on this.

What should you do instead?

Use a skin care minimum regime of cleansing, resurfacing with magnesium scrub, and oil control pads.

Everyone should be on a minimum skin care routine which includes the following:

  1. Cleanser (use morning and night) - Should use one appropriate for your skin type (oily, hydrating, gentle). Most medical grade products (ZO Skin Health, Skin Ceuticals, Obagi, etc.) make a great cleanser. The five main ingredients you should avoid are sodium laurel sulfate (strips away all oils on skin and causes break outs), strong fragrances, petroleum derived oils which may clog pores (plant based oils are much better), parabens (used as a preservative but may cause cancer), and alcohols. Alcohols are often used as the base ingredient in many cleansers. It will strip your natural skin barrier and can be very drying for sensitive skin. This is very contrary to the ZO approach of keeping your skin barrier intact and strengthening it on a cellular level.
  2. Skin Resurfacing - This helps smooth skin, dissolve skin oils, and remove dulling or clogging skin cells. This step appears relatively unique to ZO although there are some alternatives on Amazon. Many skin care lines do recommend exfoliation on a weekly basis.
  3. Toner - Toner with salicylic acid if prone to acne or regular toner to minimize exfoliating pore-clogging dead skin cells and dirt.

Once your skin has adjusted to this routine other serums, retinols, and treatments may be applied. A quick 3 min YouTube video from Dr. Zein Obagi speaks to this (start at 50 seconds in for part on using moisturizer).

How long does it take for your skin to adjust?

The first two weeks are the toughest. I noticed some skin tightening around my mouth and nose. After those two weeks, I started to notice a healthy glow to my skin and was hooked. After six weeks, my skin feels amazingly soft, thick, and has a wonderful natural glow. In the past, I would constantly get milia (small hard white bumps which are from a plug of dead skin cells) in spite of using a retinol and exfoliating my face with a glycolic acid peel once a week. Although it is still early, I have not gotten any of these so far. Also my typical hormonal acne has dramatically improved.

How to learn more about ZO Skin Health?

The products I used and am currently using are as follows. The Daily SkinCare Kit is a great way to try all the products and it should last you at least one month to try the products and get through the initial 2-3 weeks.

  1. Exfoliating Cleanser - At first I used the gentle cleanser as I was worried about my "sensitive / dry" skin. After about six weeks, I could feel the difference in my skin where it felt thicker and more firm so I switched to the exfoliating cleanser. This is also was easier as I share it with my husband! I love the travel sized ones as I can keep one by the shower and sink and easily throw them in a bag for quick trips.
  2. Exfoliating Polish (use once a day) - I noticed such a glow in my face after using. I typically would use in the morning when I shower, but sometimes if going out at night I would use it again to give my face a wonderful glow!
  3. Complexion Pads - I use these morning and night and I love how I can see the dirt / oil it removes on the pad. There is also Oil Control Pads for folks prone to acne.  
  4. Daily Power Defense - Although not included in the study, ZO Skin Health recommends using Daily Power Defense as the last step in your skin care regime. It is packed with powerful antioxidant designed to improve the appearance of lines + wrinkles and promote overall skin health.

At Alamo Plastic Surgery, we love providing exceptional quality skin care products and exceptional skin results.  Let us help you find your glow at if you need any help on what to purchase!  Why use a filter when you can use ZO Skin Health?


- Is Moisturizer Bad for You - Refinery29

- Stop Using Moisturizer on Face

- Do you really need to moisturize? - Skin Care Edit

Written by
Juli Albright

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