Why I Say “No” To Moisturizer

Last week I made a pretty bold statement on my Instagram that sent a lot of my followers into a tizzy: I do NOT recommend moisturizer!

I am one of the many aestheticians who believe and follow Dr. Zein Obagi’s philosophy on skin health and treatment. Dr Obagi, a Board-Certified Dermatologist for over 35 years, is well-known in the dermatological and skin care industry for pioneering advanced skincare solutions.  His approach is to create healthy skin versus just treating the symptoms. I implemented this philosophy into my treatments and home care recommendations very early on in my career and have had a lot success with it.

In a nutshell, if your skin cells are healthy and working at their peak, your skin will hydrate itself. Perfect example: Children!

The dermal layer of the skin has three crucial components: Elastin, Collagen, and Glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s). These three musketeers form what we call the Extracellular Matrix. This Extracellular Matrix is responsible for how our skin operates and looks.

Collagen in our skin provides strength and elasticity.

Elastin enables our skin to stretch and bounce back; it’s elastic.

GAG’s in our skin attract water; they keep our skin hydrated.

When we are young all of these cells are working optimally, which is why children have beautiful, healthy, hydrated skin. Fast forward into your twenties and your skin slowly starts to degenerate. This is called the aging process. A combination of inner and outer factors start to break down and compromise the health of our Extracellular Matrix.

This is when most people start to see the “symptoms”. Brown spots, dryness, fine lines, milia, whatever it may be. So do we keep jump starting the car?  Or do we replace the battery?

We replace the battery.

In the case of dryness, if we go to the source of the problem, the breakdown of GAG’s, and repair them then the skin will be able to hydrate itself again.

If you apply moisturizer to the surface of the skin it is just sitting there, collecting dust, or in this case dead skin, and interfering with the skin’s own ability to produce hydration.

So how do we fix the Extracellular Matrix?

1-EXFOLIATION! Both physical (scrubs) and chemical (retinoids).

Everyone should be using a retinoid/retinol everyday as part of their skin care regimen. I have a whole blog post dedicated to this topic if you’d like to reference back.

2- ANTIOXIDANTS! These Vitamin C based serums are a blast of nutrients for your skin. I also have a blog post dedicated to the importance of using these daily.

If you keep your skin exfoliated and nourished with these two main ingredients you will find that the skin does not require any additional hydration.

So what happens if you are feeling dry or flaky? EXFOLIATE! Often times we mistake dead skin for dry skin.

What about if you are feeling flaky from retinoids? Let it pass. The skin will eventually get to a point where it has acclimated and no longer is purging layers of skin.

Ok, so now let’s talk acne. Moisturizers are terrible for oily or acne prone skin. Acne is caused by a lack of skin proliferation (healthy skin cell turnover). The last thing you want is to load more onto the surface of the skin. Moisturizers and acne do not mix. They just don’t.

If you are using an antioxidant, a retinoid, and a daily sunscreen, there should not be the need for any additional moisturization. The key is always to be on the right products for your skin type so it is crucial that you meet with a skin care specialist to determine which products are best for you!

I’m sure many of you will have additional questions so please fell free to reach out to me!




14 thoughts on “Why I Say “No” To Moisturizer

  1. What about the skin science daily treatment cream??? Should I not reorder??? I use the alto defense and intensive alpha ret overnight cream. I love all your posts. You are amazing!! Martina


    1. Hi Martina! Thank you!
      The Daily treatment cream is actually not a moisturizer! It’s a collagen stimulating treatment product, so go right ahead!!! SkinBetter has a moisturizer for those who are VERY dry but they too advise to use “as needed”.


  2. Hello!! I love all your skin tips!! I use Zo medical daily power Defense on some days as well as the overnight repair cream in between my retamax nights. I’m curious, do you know why Obagi produces moisturizers like these if he doesn’t believe in them? Are they actually moisturizers?


    1. Hi, and thank you! That’s a great question. ZO makes a few moisturizers to help patients get through “anticapted reactions”. I have a whole post about that on my IG page. These products will help you get through the initial uncomfortable stages for those that need it 🙂


  3. I have recently started using Edipuo Forte again. I use a toner, the epiduo and then a vitamin C serum, should that be enough if I take out my moisturizer? Or is the epiduo with the vitamin C to strong together?


    1. It should be ok.
      Depends on the vitamin C Serum. Some have additional nourishing ingredients in them that help soothe vs irritate the skin. Give it a few weeks to adapt but it should be ok. Ingredients matter but so does the particular product. Epiduo is good though 👍🏻


  4. Hi,

    I have experienced bad breakouts this year & I am searching for a solution. Right now I am on doxy & apply tret .1% – & am trying to cut out moisturizer because I do believe it has caused more harm. My skin is red, peeling, and inflamed so I have cut back to applying tret every other night. Is there anything you suggest to help with the burning or should I try to bear it.


  5. Hello,
    I am 46 with acne prone only in the chin area skin, I do a Tretinoin cream .05 percent, in the evening and other suggestions for a better complexion, I feel I’m too old to still be dealing with this! Thank you!


    1. Hi! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Unfortunately it is much too common. Are you doing regular skincare treatments like Hydrafacial and Dermaplane monthly? Have you tried chemical peels?


      1. I have done professional chemical peels in the past with some results, I will look into the hydra facial and dermaplane, Thank you!


  6. Just curious.. I definitely use a retinol and I’ve been using dr zo products for about 5 months now and I love!! what vitamin c brand do u recommend?


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