About a month ago I went for a facial at Allure Day Spa–a luxurious retreat in the heart of Manhattan. The esthetician took one look at me under the blinding light and said, "You use moisturizer, don't you?"
Why, yes, of course I did. After all, that is what dermatologists and fashion magazines have told me all my life: I have dry skin and need to moisturize. What I was about to hear, however, would rock my world. "Dry skin is a myth. Stop using moisturizer."
She proceeded to explain how dry skin can often be the result of inflammation and infection rather than genetic predisposition. Just as chapstick is said to increase the dryness of your lips when used in excess, so too can moisturizer deplete the natural moisturizing properties of the skin. Was Dr. Obagi on to something?
In short, she suggested a new regime: wash twice a day with a top notch, exfoliating cleanser. My old standby is St. Ives Apricot Scrub for Blackhead and Blemish Control— at $5 it's a steal. For a treat once to twice a week, splurge on DermaDoctor's Physical Chemistry ($75), a miraculous skin brightener and softener. It's pure genius.
Follow up in the mornings and evenings with an anti-inflammatory toner or astringent. Ingredients to look for are willow bark, salicylic acid, and witch hazel. Neutrogena makes an inexpensive Pore Refining Toner with alpha and beta hydroxy acids. In addition, throw in a clay mask treatment once to twice a week for really clear skin and smaller pores. Clinque's Deep Cleansing Emergency Mask ($19.50) is a godsend.
The results? Four weeks later, my skin is clearer and more radiant than ever. I may have a lot of useless creams sitting around now, but her advice changed my skin for the better.
What do you think? Are creams and moisturizers a must or just a bunch of malarky?