Should acne victims use moisturizers? Acne victims usually struggle with too much oil on the skin. So adding moisturizer to this mix doesn’t sound like a good idea. But is it really so? Does moisturizers make already bad situation worse or can they help with acne? I looked at studies on the use of moisturizers on treatment of acne and other skin conditions. Here’s what I found.
The skin barrier function
To understand the importance of moisturizers we need to briefly talk about skin barrier function. The skin is much more than a ‘bio-plastic wrap’ around your body. It plays an active role in maintenance of health. For example, it regulates moisture absorption and retention based on environmental humidity. The skin immune system also active protects you from bacteria and other harmful organisms. The skin also prevents a host of harmful substances from entering the body. All these are examples of the skin barrier function.
One common theme among all inflammatory skin conditions is weakening of this barrier function. One study for example found that acne patients have significantly higher water loss through the skin than those with healthy skin.
Excessive moisture loss and dryness often lead to weakening of the skin barrier function. There are water containing cells between the skin cells that in a way bind the skin cells together. When some of this water is lost ‘cracks’ form between the skin cells. This hinders the skin barrier function.
Some consequences of impaired skin barrier function are:
- The skin is more sensitive and prone to irritation
- Dryness of the skin
- The skin is more prone to infections
The role of moisturizers
Quick look at the PubMed database shows that several studies support the use of moisturizers in treatment of skin conditions. Moisturizers:
- Help to repair the skin barrier function.
- Prevent and treat skin dryness associated with many acne treatments. This in turn makes you more likely to stick with the treatment and get the benefits.
- Reduce skin irritation.
- Increase skin tolerance to UV rays and other sources of inflammation.
What all this means is moisturizers help to support the overall health of the skin and makes it less prone to acne.
From the studies I’ve seen I can’t make detailed recommendations on which moisturizer to use. But I can give you a few pointers:
- Use different moisturizer for face and other parts of the body. Facial moisturizers are formulated somewhat differently from other moisturizers.
- Naturally avoid any irritants you are aware of. However you shouldn’t get overtly paranoid with all the chemical names you see in the ingredients list. They are there for a purpose. This page, Moisturizers: What They Are and a Practical Approach to Product Selection lists several substances used in moisturizers and why they are there.
- Look for moisturizers with therapeutic ingredients. For example vitamins E and B3 (niacin/niacinamide) are very helpful for acne patients. The same goes with green tea extracts. Daily moisturizer is a great vehicle for delivering these to the skin.
I’ve heard a lot of good feedback for Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer. Among Proactiv’s products it’s one that most users like. It’s not exactly cheap, but might be worth checking out. Amazon usually has the best price. Click here to check it out at Amazon.
- Impaired water barrier function in acne vulgaris.
- Combination effects of cosmetic moisturisers in the topical treatment of acne vulgaris.
- Moisturizers for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions.
- Impaired skin barrier function in dermatologic disease and repair with moisturization.
- Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders.
- Improved clinical outcomes with moisturization in dermatologic disease.
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Clear for Life: Lifestyle for Health, Happiness and Clear Skin
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Emotional Healing for Clear Skin: Simple system for healing the emotional pain acne causes