Are You Using Enough Moisturizer…Or Too Much!?

By Minji

  • When it comes to skincare, there’s nothing more critical than moisturizing properly
  • Not enough moisturizing is a problem for all skin types...but can you also over-do your moisturizing routine?
  • Read on for the nitty gritty on how to moisturize properly

Of all of my daily skincare steps, hands down step 3 moisturizer is the most important (sunscreen is a close second!).  When it comes to skincare, there’s nothing more critical than moisturizing properly – I call it the holy grail of skincare.  You might’ve also heard about my “moisturizing trifecta” – drinking plenty of water, utilizing a humidifier during the dry seasons and applying moisturizer to your skin.

Without even thinking about it, I typically use moisturizer on my face and neck two times a day – once in the morning after a shower, and again at night as I prepare for bed with my nighttime ritual.  I’ve never questioned this way of life – until I recently came across a skincare interview with a Seoul-based dermatologist who said she continuously applies moisturizer to her face until she’s in bed. 

Her logic was basically, more is more.  Since hydration is essential for glowing skin, keep applying multiple layers of cream to your face so that your skin stays moisturized throughout the night.  This made me question a life-time routine.  Should I use moisturizer more than twice a day I wondered.

Well, needless to say, this topic fascinated me and I started my research.  Without further ado, let me tell you my conclusion – no, you don’t need to moisturize more than twice a day unless your skin legitimately feels dry or dehydrated (which is probably only a small percentage of people with really dry skin).  

First, I want to reemphasize that moisturizing is still one of the most important things when it comes to skincare for every type of skin.  Even for the oiliest of skin, you still need a hydrating moisturizer (maybe something light or oil-free).  Experts caution that if your skin lacks moisture, it could overcompensate with excess oil production which will actually exacerbate your oily skin issues.   

However, there's another school of thought that says if you over moisturize, your skin could also become reliant on that and decide to produce less moisture and oil on its own.  Proponents of this approach say over application of moisturizer can even throw off the balance of your skin and turn into a vicious cycle where your skin gets drier despite the fact that you’re using more moisturizer.  This sounded scary and I had to ask Dr. Yoon.  

Luckily, Dr. Yoon put me at ease.  He assured me there is no evidence to show that applying too much moisturizer can cause skin to adapt and lose its moisture retention function. However, he cautions, depending on the ingredients in the moisturizer, with excessive use, acne or allergies can develop.

So how much moisturizer is just the right amount? Dr. Yoon says the amount and frequency of application should be adjusted according to the dryness of your skin, air humidity, and the ingredients in the moisturizer. 

For example, assuming you have normal skin, application 2-3 times a day when the weather is cold and dry, 1-2 times a day when the weather is hot and humid might work best.  To the extent you have areas of your body or face that feel more dry or tight than other places, you should apply moisturizer to those areas more often.  Like so many other questions in life, it depends on your unique situation and it's important to tune in to your skin, body and environment.  

I personally experienced issues with over-moisturizing during a time I was not only applying moisturizer, but also an overnight mask on top of that daily.  It was just too much and felt like product was floating on top of my face.  It ended up giving me a few pimples too.  Now I don’t use the mask more than 2-3 times a week and reserve it mainly for the dry winter season. 

So the final conclusion is, don't fix it if it's not broken.  Even if you don’t really remember where it came from, and feel tempted by the ladies out there who claim moisturizing non-stop is their secret to dewy skin, for the long-term health of your skin, it’s better to not over do it - this rule applies to your skincare routine in general

The amount of moisturizer that's perfect can be different for each of us but the key is, you want enough so that your skin feels hydrated, but not so much that it doesn’t easily absorb and disappear into your skin. For me, it’s about an edamame bean size morning and night. No matter what, keep in mind that skincare, like the rest of your wellness routines, is a marathon and not a sprint - let's train your skin for this long term effort!