GQ: Skip the moisturizer, go Blackbird

July 18, 2017

Why You Should Skip the Moisturizer This Summer



I am a sweaty man, and nothing gets my pores streaming like the summer heat. I sweat gallons in the sun, especially if it’s humid. Much of that percolation occurs above the shoulders. I've got all kinds of techniques for combatting the summer sweats, but I recently realized one grooming habit of mine was exacerbating the problem: moisturizer.

Moisturizing is, in my opinion, one of two essential daily skincare steps that every human should take (in addition to cleansing; do them both twice daily). Moisturizer hydrates your cells, promotes healthy turnover, and creates a barrier over your skin to protect it from environmental wear (and UV rays, if it's packing SPF). However, it’s that barrier of dense cream that gives me extra (like, three times as much) sweat in the summer. If I don’t apply moisturizer and step outside in 80-degree heat, I adjust and only sweat from the heat itself. If I do apply moisturizer, I could stand over the front lawn and water it with my brow sweat.

So, I stopped using moisturizer in the summer. (In the daytime, at least. I still advocate for a nice night cream + air conditioner combo at bedtime.) But because it’s still imperative to hydrate and protect the cells, I have to replace it with something else.

Enter face oils. They’re lightweight, and a couple drops will soak evenly and seamlessly into the face, leaving no oily residue. They work as expert hydrators, penetrating all three layers of the skin like a serum, instead of just sitting atop the first layer like a moisturizer. They protect you from the elements (aside from UV rays), since they’re lipophilic (meaning, they trap in moisture and block out the bad stuff that ages you and clogs pores). And, as a solution to the sweating, they let the pores breathe more than a moisturizer might.

The one downside is that creams have more corrective, nourishing benefits than oil. But, since you’re still using a dense moisturizer or night cream at bedtime, you’ll get those healing benefits while your cells regenerate overnight. (That’s when it’s more imperative, anyway.)

The oils you can buy specifically as moisturizer substitutes usually use Vitamin E-rich oils such as argan, avocado, and jojoba. You should avoid anything with fragrance, which can easily irritate the skin.

I have oily skin and still benefit from the added oil. It absorbs easily and doesn’t make my skin any oilier. Instead, it actually balances the oil production, but, more importantly, adds nutrients to my skin while letting the pores breathe.

People with dry skin who will benefit most from using face oils, and those individuals might consider replacing their moisturizers permanently, not just in warm months. Oils will hydrate much deeper than any moisturizer, and will of course add oil to the dry skin, which is incapable of producing enough itself. This should help minimize acne and scaly skin, too.

To get you started, here are three face oils I love:

F. Miller Face Oil: Top shelf stuff. A blend of 15 natural oils.

Plant Apothecary Face Oil: Engineered for dry skin, with almond, macadamia, and rosemary oils, plus Vitamin E.

Blackbird Universal Face Oil: Oils can be costly, and Blackbird’s UV-resistant white glass gives it a much longer shelf life than the typical 1-year run.


So, here’s my recommended summer skincare strategy, if you’re planning on incorporating oil into the routine:

1. After cleansing in the morning, hydrate with a couple drops of face oil.

2. If you’ll be outside for less than 15 minutes, wear a hat to protect your face, as you head to work or the grocery store.

3. If you’ll be outside for a while, then apply a lightweight moisturizer-sunscreen hybrid right before going out. (You should still apply the oil in the morning. Only substitute the oil for sunscreen entirely if hanging outside the first thing you’re doing that day.) I can’t say enough good about COOLA’s Classic Unscented Sunscreen. It’s like whipped butter and has never aggravated my sweaty situation.

4. Apply night cream or dense moisturizer before bed. If you opt for nighttime retinol treatments, remember that SPF protection during the day is especially imperative. Just be sure to cleanse thoroughly, to wash it all away before any sun exposure. These guidelines should still suit you, but at the first sign of sun irritation, you should switch back to an SPF-packed moisturizer at all times.

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