You’re multi-masking and slathering on moisturiser on the regular, but could your diligent regime be sabotaging your skin?

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Moisturise, moisturise and moisturise some more is a lesson that’s drilled into us from mothers, magazines and marketing, but I know that I for one rarely stop to think as to whether my skin is actually in need of rich creams or another Sunday evening sheet mask . Moisturising is as automatic for many of us as brushing our teeth or putting the kettle on of a morning, and in most cases that’s as it should be, but there is an upper limit where skin hydration is concerned. We consulted cosmetologist, pharmacist and founder of skincare brand Twelve Beauty Pedro Catalá  on over-egging our skincare, how the environment affects our hydration levels and spotting skin that’s had quite enough, thank you very much.

Over-hydrated skin- is it a thing?

“It certainly is. Technically we refer to it as skin maceration, and it’s a process whereby the skin softens and breaks down due to excess moisture. Think about when we spend too much time in the sea and our skin goes wrinkly and soft. The same is happening to our face when we over-hydrate, to a lesser degree.”

Is it common?

“More common than you would think, especially given that more and more of us are opting for long and complicated regimes, layering multiple heavy products or using occlusive skincare.”

How does it happen?

“Initially over-hydration of the skin occurs on the corneocytes (the dead cells in the outermost layer of the skin) that work as a barrier. These corneocytes start swelling after exposure to excessive moisture. The structure of the barrier starts changing and the increase of transepidermal water loss is considerable. The barrier is compromised and there is a risk of penetration of chemical and biological compounds.”

“Also there is an increase of the normal pH of the skin (usually around 5.5, so slightly acidic) reaching values of between seven and eight. This change in pH influences has a negative influence in the enzymatic processes necessary to keep the skin barrier healthy, decreasing the skin’s own “immune system”.”

How can we know if our skin is over-hydrated?

“After applying a moisturiser our skin should feel elastic, plump and soothed. If the moisturiser doesn’t get absorbed, the cream will leave a shiny residue, and the surface of the skin will appear rough, sometimes with little spots coming up on the surface.”

What should we do if we suspect that our skin is over-hydrated?

“This one’s pretty simple- stop using the products that you think could be over-hydrating the skin. Once you stop, the skin can reverse the damage. In some extreme cases of over-hydration, an infection can occur, generally due to a microorganism called candida albicans, in which case an antifungal cream must be used to treat it.”

Any products or ingredients to look out for when seeking optimum hydration?

“The best ingredients are those compatible with the skin’s composition, for instance squalane, jojoba oil (a liquid wax similar to the waxes in our skin), avocado oil and macadamia oil or mallow flower extract.”

What products or ingredients might you want to avoid if your skin is over-hydrated?

“Occlusive ingredients such as vaseline (paraffinum liquidum), silicones (dimethicone, cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, cyclopentasiloxane…), beeswax and lanolin.”

Are certain skin types prone to becoming over-hydrated?

“You have to be more careful with your choices if you have combination skin, as this is an imbalanced skin with some dry patches and other areas with an overproduction of sebum. Only moisturise where you need it, and be wary of overdoing it over oily areas.”

Does our environment make a difference?

“The environment definitely affects the skin’s hydration levels. If we work in an office, or any closed environment with central heating or air conditioning, it’s highly likely that we will need extra hydration. Where we live makes a difference too, for instance if there is humidity in the air, our skin can draw some moisture from the environment, so you might not need to apply so much moisturiser, or on the flipside if the weather is dry, it’s important to make sure that you moisturise properly.”

Finally, when do we know that our skin is back in balance?

“It should feel elastic and comfortable, and if you’re lucky you’ll have a healthy glow.”

The best moisturisers for combination skin

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