Most of us who moisturize do so because we want to avoid looking dry or flaky, but it’s often claimed that regularly moisturizing also provides a more long-term benefit: It prevents wrinkles and keeps our skin looking youthful down the line by improving its elasticity. If this is the case, how many years can we expect to take off our appearance by regularly moisturizing?
“It’s tough to quantify how many years, per se, moisturizing might take off your appearance, however patients who don’t moisturize usually have dry skin, which shows more wrinkles and looks dull,” says dermatologist Anthony Rossi. A more tangible answer comes from an eight-year-long study published in the British Journal of Dermatology: The results showed that a typical 28-year-old woman with dry skin would have 52 percent more wrinkles than she currently has by the time she hits 36, while her wrinkling would only increase by 22 percent in that same amount of time if she moisturized regularly. While this still doesn’t precisely answer how many years moisturizer can take off your face, the 30 percent difference shows it makes a significant difference to the visible aging process.
So how exactly does moisturizer keep us looking young? As we mentioned earlier, well-hydrated skin retains its elasticity better than dry skin does, which prevents wrinkling. Moisturizing also locks and absorbs water into the skin, and when the skin cells are plump with water, the expression lines we make when we move our face about (i.e., smiling or frowning) have a tougher time deepening into more permanent wrinkles.
Rossi emphasizes, though, that while moisturizing does help us retain our youthful appearance, regularly applying some form of sun protection is just as important, if not more, since UV rays can drastically reduce the skin’s elasticity. In other words, a bit of sunscreen a day will keep the wrinkles away.