Conventional wisdom (our dear, dear friend) tells us that without the constant application of skin creams and face lotions and mineral moisturizers, we’ll become haggard parchment people with wrinkled mugs that’d put an elderly Sharpei to shame. It seems to have worked, too. Most bathroom mirrors conceal impressive caches of creams, lotions, and oils, and many people instinctively and compulsively lather the stuff on any chance they get (similar to our infatuation with Purell, but that’s another post altogether). But, as we’ve often wondered, is confronting a totally natural occurrence – dry skin – with unnatural methods and products really such a good idea?
As you know, we here at Mark’s Daily Apple tend to prefer the natural to the artificial – but that’s only because we’ve found that following nature’s way and listening to biology and evolution often go hand in hand. It’s not a dogmatic ideology of naturalism we espouse here; it is a pragmatic approach to life that tells us the natural way most often is the best way, but that also allows the use of artificial aids, if they are safe and effective. With that in mind, we weren’t all that surprised to read about a recent scientific study that discovered using lotions and skin creams can actually weaken your skin’s resistance to the elements and create a dependency on skin products.
Swedish scientist Izabela Buraczewska found that creams can actually make the skin drier in the long run. Basically, once you start using a cream or lotion to combat dry skin, you have to keep using it or your skin will regress to a point even drier than it was before you started using the cream. She used several different kind of creams and oils to test her results, and she found that even different pH levels didn’t change the effects on the skin. Both mineral and vegetable oil were tried, and both resulted in the skin having less resistance to drying elements. Strangely enough, however, using a complex cream had less of a drying effect. To Buraczewska, this meant that a blanket assignation of blame to all creams and lotions simply isn’t realistic. The problem wasn’t with the idea of artificial skin creams; the problem was that an effective skin cream simply hadn’t been created that could deal with the drying effects.
Tissue samples taken from patients suggest that the application of skin creams affects the activity of certain genes that regulate the production of skin fats, which figure prominently in the skin’s moisture levels. If we can isolate the compounds in the creams that do dry the skin, perhaps new moisturizers can be developed without the bad stuff.
So maybe smearing raw avocado and palm oil on your body isn’t the best Primal moisturizer. Maybe using unnatural oils and creams will eventually be a better way to fight dry skin. There’s a lot of things you can call us, but rigid isn’t one of them. Better living through rigorously tested and nearly perfected chemistry? Sure, we’ll take that every time.