As the head of dermatology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Dr. Neil Shear gets asked one particular question a lot: what’s the best moisturizer? Moisturization is important for almost every skin disease and in many of the diseases it’s either caused by an inability to hold moisture in the skin or it’s part of the disease and you’re losing moisture and we are trying to replace that. He says poor moisturization can actually affect a host of skin problems, ranging from eczema, psoriasis, acne and itchiness. Luckily, Dr. Shear says there is good news to report. I tell patients now everyday: we had theory, we had science and now we have products. This is like the best news ever. One of the big findings is around a protein called filaggrin, something to watch for in future products. Researchers have found when it’s lacking, the skin loses moisture and problems can flare up. The other big news is about ceramides. Turns out, they appear to be the ingredient most people need in a moisturizer, and Dr. Shear offers a few examples. The ones we think of, the ones with ceramides in them, are the biggest news right now, and it may change if adding filaggrin helps in the future, but right now we have one called Cerave, there’s one called Curel, and there’s Cetaphil Restoraderm for people with eczema. This is a particularly important time of year to moisturize, as the winter season can be very drying. Other culprits for dry skin include older age, and soaps with a high PH. Opt for cleansing bars instead. For your overall skin routine, Dr. Shear says, keep it simple. By getting them off things that destroy the moisture in the skin, like soaps and using every product on earth on their face that’s drying it out, and starting to replenish the ceramides, people often get much better before we even have to give them medication. When you find a product that works, try to use it consistently, in places like the gym and when travelling. And while parabens have received a lot of bad press, Dr. Shear says this preservative is actually effective and safe. You need a preservative in a cream because bacteria can grow in it and you have to keep something there. Parabens are actually about the best. And more good news: Dr. Shear says more expensive doesn’t always equal better quality. So your skin can look like a million bucks, without paying a fortune. With Sunnyview, I’m Monica Matys.
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