Imogen Edwards-Jones pays a visit to Dr Rachael Eckel to find out why moisturisers might be our skin's worst enemy

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In the words of Sheryl Sandberg - lean in - I shall say this only once. I have just been to a lecture on skin care. No. That’s not the news. But it is actually news because skin care is not something I regularly attend lectures on, being the sort who can barely be bothered to shovel soap on at night and who hopes that my eye liner is going to last for two days. So for me to make it to a lecture is quite something. But that’s not the actual news I want to share. What I want to share is the fact that moisturisers are RUBBISH. There! I said it. Put down your glass of wine and release the crisp/fag/chocolate bonbon. If you want to have skin like a baby’s backside: don’t moisturise.

Don’t take my word for it, obviously. Take my late night bar recommendations. Or listen to my thoughts on who makes heels you can actually walk in. I know about that sort of stuff. But Dr Rachael Eckel, she knows as much about skin as I do about vodka. Actually even possibly more, as she has studied skin, dermatology, where as I have not actually studied vodka, although I am sure if there were an exam I’d probably do quite well.

Anyway back to the epidermis. So there I was, today, this is SO hot off the press it is ridiculous, desperately eying a gluten free brownie and listening to Dr Rachael Eckel on her theories of why moisturising is bad, and why far more of us than we actually realise suffer from rosacea – a reddening of the skin that forms broken veins, blotches and bumpy pigmentations. And the enemy for all of us?


Oil is the dermatological equivalent of wisdom teeth, something that was useful once when we were apes and covered in hair. Then, we needed to keep our follicles all nice and shiny and smooth, so we produced gallons of oil all over our furry faces. But now, all that oil does is sit on top of our skin, block our pores, gives us zits and blackheads and craters and, in the end, leads to rosacea. Oil is not our friend. It doesn’t help you age less quickly. Oil is awful and terrible and should be stopped!

But silly us. The older we get, the more we crave oil. We spend more and more money on moisturisers which only clog the pores and make our old skin lazier and more slacklustre and less likely to work properly. Children don’t have active sebaceous glands and yet their skin is lovely. I am paraphrasing, obviously, and she was MUCH more erudite on the subject. But essentially we should not be slathering ourselves in stuff, we should be washing, exfoliating and keeping everything as calm and uninflamed as possible.

Her before and after photos were so convincing, I began to eye the blue goodie bags with the steely eye determination of a shoplifter. How could I get away with two? Would they notice, if I grabbed a third nonchalantly on the way out? And as I sat there, with the brownie still winking at me and the awful before shots (looking terribly like me) getting little gasps from the distinctly much younger audience, I remembered that I’d heard this oil-free theory before. Back in the annals of times when I was a teenager there was a cosmetic company called Janet Sartin who used to espouse the same routine. You could only buy the stuff from Harvey Nichols and I used it religiously for five years, and I have to say my skin was flawless.

Dr Rachael Eckel’s argument was sound. Her logic was logical. Her photos won me over. And so now I have a bag of Zo Skin Health products by Zein Obagi from Beverly Hills to test-drive. Wish me luck! For the next three weeks I am going oil free. So I shall either morph gently in to a crocodile handbag and turn full lizard lady, or they’ll be asking me for my ID next time I ask for a vodka and tonic.