woman applying moisturizer to face with text reading "Should You Wash Off Moisturizer?"

Should You Wash Off Moisturizer?

Formulating an effective skincare routine can be difficult, especially when you’re new to skincare and are faced with a multitude of products on the market. Moisturizing the skin is an important factor in keeping your skin healthy – but do you need to wash off moisturizer after you apply it? Moisturizers should always be left on the skin after application so that you can benefit from its ingredients.

Should You Wash Your Face After Using Moisturizer?

Cleansing the skin is an important step in your skincare routine. Using a gentle cleanser helps to slough off dead skin cells and remove dirt, oils, and excess products off the surface of your skin before applying other products. When using a moisturizer, it is important not to wash your face immediately after. The moisturizer’s ingredients need to sit on the skin for a specified amount of time in order to gain maximum benefits. Moisturizers often contain beneficial ingredients such as humectants, emollients, and other skin-repairing ingredients that need time in order to have an effect on the skin’s appearance. These ingredients may include hyaluronic acid, which increases water content in the skin. It may also include redness-reducing ingredients such as licorice root or niacinamide. These are ingredients that work with the skin’s receptors to promote changes in the skin. Washing off the moisturizer will dry out the skin, remove the beneficial ingredients meant to heal the skin, and cause irritation and possibly dehydration. 

Benefits of Moisturizing The Skin

Moisturizing the skin has many benefits. The ingredients of the moisturizer you choose will dictate how well it can repair the skin. In general, the benefits of moisturizing the skin include:

  1. Increased moisture content in the stratum corneum (top layer of the skin).
  2. Softened skin cells which aid in supporting the skin’s barrier.
  3. Hydrates the skin which makes it appear smoother and more plump.
  4. Prevents skin dryness and dehydration. When the skin is dehydrated, it can give the appearance of having superficial lines or wrinkles. Moisturizing the skin can help alleviate this symptom.
  5. Allows active ingredients to better penetrate the skin. When the skin is dry and damaged, any ingredients added to the skin may simply cause irritation and inflammation. When the skin is moisturized, it allows these ingredients to penetrate easily without causing further irritation.
  6. Depending on the ingredients in the moisturizer, many ingredients reduce inflammation, target fine lines, increase skin elasticity, and promote collagen production. These can all improve signs of aging and the overall look of the skin.
  7. Protects the skin from harsh active ingredients such acne treatments and/or chemical exfoliants so that they can effectively treat the targeted skin condition.
  8. Promotes the healing of skin conditions such as acne and other inflammatory conditions.
  9. Reduces the chances of sun damage. When the skin is not moisturized, it becomes dry and irritated, which ultimately makes the skin more prone to damage from the sun’s UV rays. Moisturizing can strengthen the skin barrier and provide hydration to help support the skin’s defense against sun damage.

Should You Leave Moisturizer on Overnight?

At night, your skin repairs itself. Sleep is an essential component in maintaining a healthy mind and body. Sleep promotes the differentiation of cells, regulates hormonal fluctuations, and increases wound healing. When asleep, it is important to give your skin the ingredients it needs to properly regenerate tissue and repair skin conditions. Therefore, is is imperative to leave moisturizer on the skin at night to ensure you are continuously supporting the skin’s moisture barrier throughout the night.

What Is the Best Way to Apply Moisturizer?

Moisturizer often contains humectants, which are ingredients that help to retain water content in the skin. This is important to keep moisture levels up and keep the skin barrier healthy. However, it is important to apply moisturizer in a specific way to ensure you are gaining the best results. After cleansing the skin, always ensure to apply moisturizer on damp skin. This allows the humectants to retain the water left on the surface of the skin.

If you apply moisturizer on dry skin, you are simply missing the opportunity to retain water content on the skin and instead, you are letting the water evaporate before applying the moisturizer. Always remember to apply it immediately after washing the face while the skin still has visible water droplets on the skin, or is at least damp to touch. After the moisturizer dries, you may apply any treatments that may be part of your routine. Moisturizers needs to be applied morning and night for best results, after cleansing.

What Happens if You Don’t Moisturize?

Since there are many benefits to applying moisturizer to the skin, there are also a lot of downfalls that can occur if you don’t apply moisturizer. It is important to have a well-rounded skincare routine that contains a moisturizer with skin-repairing ingredients to prevent the issues that can occur when moisturizer is not applied.

  1. Your skin may become extremely dry and feel uncomfortable, especially after cleansing.
  2. With consistent cleansing and no moisturizing, the skin’s barrier can become damaged and this can lead to acne and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  3. You may experience dehydration and this can contribute to the look of dry, irritated, and dull skin.
  4. Loss of collagen and elastin becomes accelerated leading to visible signs of aging.
  5. Moisture content in the stratum corneum is depleted and the skin is less protected from external stressors such as UV rays, harsh products, and damaging weather conditions.

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