How A Moisturizer Made Me Question My Entire Skin Routine

I've had dry skin my entire life. It's not so extreme that I get dry patches or flaking on the regular, but enough that my skin screams out for thick creams and a hit of oil in my foundation, all to maintain the slightest glow.

The only problem with this heavier-is-better strategy? Like many with dry complexions, my face is also prone to congestion like milia, whiteheads, and most recently, random cystic breakouts. (Yay!)

Needless to say, it was time to reevaluate my skin-quenching techniques or forever be in need of extractions and spot treatments. Of course, I work in beauty, so knew that I needed balance. How to get that balance, however, I had no clue.

Let's rewind: In an interview a few weeks ago, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, made a rather unexpected assertion. She told me that mostly everyone should be using a gel-like moisturizer right about now. "Wait," I said, "even those with dry skin and congestion?" (Yes, I slightly derailed the interview to get free skin advice for your's truly. Sue me.) "Yes," she said plainly, noting that it's hyaluronic acid content, not the richest texture, that those with dry skin should be looking for in the summer. Bonus: She added that I also need to be consistent with a good AHA, whether that is in the light moisturizer or a separate step.

You can't just pile things on your face and think it's going to cure the dryness...

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Naturally, I scoffed at the idea of using something so light, and if it wasn't for my love of de-puffing gels (this one is my favorite) I might not have given it a second thought. But it was advice I've gotten (and given) before: You can't just pile things on your face and think it's going to cure the dryness without clogging the pores. Of course, I do practice what I preach, so I gave it a go.

Enter in my hydration compromise: If a classic lotion and a gel moisturizer had a baby, you'd get Philosophy's brand-new skin-saver. Which, since I opened up to the idea of something lighter a few weeks ago, has quickly become one of my favorite hydrators — and for good reason.

The fresh-smelling formula smooths over skin like a rich cream — immediately providing a protecting barrier and dewy sheen — but then fully soaks in, leaving behind soft, balanced skin that is perfectly radiant. Bells and whistles are nice (and yes, it is packed with them) but it's that immediate quenched feeling and long lasting glow that makes it fool-proof in my book.

Yes, I slightly derailed the interview into free skin advice for your's truly. Sue me.

Now for the extras: Like you'd probably guess, it's packed with antioxidants and extracts (coffee seed, bitter orange, ginkgo biloba leaf) to help combat all the everyday things that rob skin of its healthy look (pollution, lack of sleep, etc.). It also has a hit of both hyaluronic (to hydrate and plump) and AHA by way of lactic acid (which smooths and exfoliates). Translation: It's just what the doctor ordered.

For the record, Dr. Tanzi says that you have to use a product for about two weeks to really get a feel for whether or not your skin will become balanced and comfortable with it, so I stuck with it. The verdict? I am happy to report that I have hit my mark and am still going strong. Finding definitive balance may never happen, but getting a step closer feels pretty damn rad.

Philosophy Take A Deep Breath Oil-Free Oxygenating Gel Cream, $40, available at Philosophy.