I love great skin lotions. Here in Phoenix, the dry heat of the summer (oh, and winter, and spring, and everything except the monsoon season) can strip your skin dry, leaving you begging for moisturizers.
The problem is that lots of lotions have humectants in them– ingredients that are meant to pull moisture from the air and into your skin to help moisturize and plump your tissue. The moisture keeps the skin from cracking, helps plump up tissue to reduce the look of wrinkles, and helps keep the skin more supple. This works great in climates that have moisture in the air.
But in dry heat climates, humectants only have one place to pull the moisture from- your skin. And that can leave your skin feeling more dry over time. So you apply more lotion, and then switch brands thinking the lotion was the problem, instead of the humectants inside it. Humectants do have some positive properties, though, including creating a small protective layer on the skin, even after you wash the lotion off.
Does my lotion have humectant? The following humectants are fairly popularly used. Check your labels for: glycerin, propylene glycol, hyaluronic acid, some alpha-hydroxy acids, like lactic acid, pantheon, sodium lactate, and honey. (Some of these product are not only humectants but do have some other beneficial skin properties).
What to do? During humid times of the year, humectant containing lotions or creams are great by themselves. Even in moderate climates that have some level of moisture in the air, this is true. But in very dry climates, such as Phoenix, either get lotions that have no humectants added ( hard to find!). OR, the better choice is to make sure to put a cream or other oil based product over the top of the that humectant containing lotion- just a little to give it a coating. Skin creams that have almond oil, jojoba, or other soothing oils to the skin, blended together with beeswax or some emulsifiers work nicely, but done leave the skin feeling oily. The helps the humectant lotion stay next to the skin, but keeps it from pulling the moisture out of your skin and sending it off into the air.
Keep your skin protected! Moisturize the right way!