Asian woman applying moisturizer on your face in the bathroom.

It’s no secret that moisturizer is a key step in any skincare range or regimen. Beauty enthusiasts use it to keep the healthy and resilient against external irritants and to maintain a balanced production of natural oils. But does using moisturizing cream or similar products have any downsides? Some say it can make your skin “lazy”! Is there any truth to this claim? Or is it just another ?

How Does Moisturizing Cream Work?

Moisturizers deliver many benefits. On a superficial level, moisturizers in any formula (cream, serum, or essence) smooth the skin by filling spaces between and flakes. They also increase the skin’s ability to absorb, retain, and redistribute water, hence giving it a softer and plumper appearance.

Beyond aesthetics, moisturizers also aid in healing by adding a protective film on the skin and protecting it against friction. Usually, a formula would combine , occlusives, and humectants to improve skin hydration by directly delivering water to the surface and prevent transepidermal water loss.

A 2017 review in the journal of notes that it not only stays on the skin’s surface but penetrates within to influence the skin’s structure and function. A moisturizer that’s rich in can also address issues such as atopic dermatitis, which is common in skin with . Meanwhile, emollient formulas are used to soothe itching from contact dermatitis.

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Does the Skin Moisturize Itself?

Yes, the skin has the innate ability to repair and . In fact, the latter is one of its primary functions: keeping moisture from escaping the body while preventing foreign substances from entering. On top of that, your sebaceous glands produce oil non-stop. When this oil travels through hair follicles and up the hair shaft, it spreads all over your epidermis and creates a protective barrier that keeps the skin moist.

Why then do we need to moisturize? Fair question. The skin goes through a lot as the body’s frontline defense against external aggressors. It experiences friction daily with every move you make and is constantly exposed to chemicals, germs, bacteria, and temperatures that may compromise its integrity.

The seemingly innocuous act of can irritate your skin if you use harsh detergents. Turning the air-conditioning on can make it dry. Standing under the sun for a little too long can escalate . Applying moisturizer gives your skin extra protection while repairing dryness and damage. These formulas draw moisture from the air and lock it in, assisting in the skin’s natural functions.

Does Moisturizing Cream Make the Skin Lazy?

No, it does not! The skin does not forget how to function just because it receives some extra help. It also does not get addicted to moisturizers or go into withdrawal if you suddenly stop using them. In fact, if your skin feels dry, your oil glands will create more sebum to compensate for moisture loss.

A 2020 study in found that while both young and mature skin experience dryness after stopping long-term use of moisturizer, it can recover fully depending on its state. If you’re under 25, your skin may recover in one to three weeks. It will take longer as you age, the study notes. While you may grow to love that silky-smooth feeling, the skin itself does not form such perceptions.

How to Moisturize Properly

Applying your moisturizing cream properly can increase its effectiveness. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), you should slather on moisturizing immediately after washing to trap existing moisture in your skin. For very dry skin, use ointments and creams instead of lotions and look for ingredients like , dimethicone, glycerin, , or shea butter. Choose fragrance-free varieties if you’re experiencing irritation or broken skin.

Moisturizing cream will not make your skin lazy, complacent, or addicted. Whatever your skin type, this product can help you achieve your beauty goals through protection and hydration. So don’t skip it! Ask your dermatologist about the best moisturizer for your needs and how to incorporate it into your existing routine.