Elan’s skin expert debunks more skincare myths

A young woman deep in thought - Essex skin expert Sue Ibrahim debunks skin care advice for using moisturisers and detoxing.

Essex skin expert Sue Ibrahim debunks skin care advice for using moisturisers and detoxing.

In our last blog, Sue Ibrahim, a nurse consultant dermatologist and medical director of Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex, stressed the importance of only believing scientifically proven advice. This time she takes a look at general skin care tips including using moisturisers and detoxing.


Look at most moisturising creams and you will find scientific claims splashed across them but do they stand up in the face of scrutiny? Sadly, most don’t, says Sue.

Given the widespread use of moisturisers there are surprisingly few good quality studies into their success. Even the term moisturiser was dreamt up by marketeers and does not have a scientific or medical basis.

Dry skin is about lack of water, not oil

Rod Tucker, a community pharmacist, published an article in 2011 in the Pharmaceutical Journal. He identified the following:

  • There is a lack of good quality clinical trials on moisturising products but there is evidence of benefit from using moisturisers in eczema and psoriasis.
  • Some evidence suggests that long-term use of moisturisers on normal skin may have adverse effects, such as increased sensitivity to irritants.
  • Emollients fill in rough spots and make skin feel smooth but don’t affect the water content.

Sue’s advice is that if you have normal skin, moisturising is not necessary.

An article from Harvard Medical School identified the following 6 tips for better-hydrated skin

  1. Turn down the thermostat. Hot air tends to be drier than cooler air.
  2. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers can help. The problem is that moisture may be soaked up in walls and furniture or disperse rapidly, depending on how airtight your home is.
  3. Take warm, not hot, baths and showers. Hot water whisks away the fatty substances in the skin that help it retain water. Some doctors recommend bath oils. You can also use bath oil as a post-bath moisturiser by rubbing yourself down with a teaspoon of it diluted in a couple cups of warm water.
  4. Use a mild soap. Cleansers like Cetaphil are an alternative to soap.
  5. Wear loose clothing. Clothing that binds and rubs can dry out skin.
  6. Stay protected. Cold, windy air is very drying, so bundle up and wear warm mittens or gloves to protect your hands.


The very term detox has been misappropriated and used for marketing all manner of pills, potions and worse! The term detox is used in a mainstream healthcare for the process of weaning drug-dependent patients off their drugs.

In alternative medicine, detox has acquired a dramatically different meaning. In an article in the British Medical Bulletin in 2012 said it “describes the use of alternative therapies for eliminating ‘toxins’ from the body of a healthy individual who is allegedly being poisoned by the by-products of her own metabolism, by environmental toxins or (most importantly) by her own over-indulgence and unhealthy lifestyle (e.g. alcohol, cigarettes and food).” It refers to this type of detox as ‘alternative detox’

Alternative detox can include:

  • various alternative diets
  • a number of herbal, vitamins, minerals and other ‘natural’ supplements
  • various forms of chelation therapy
  • electromagnetic devices
  • colonic irrigation and enemas
  • skin bruising
  • sauna and other means of inducing extensive sweating
  • homeopathic remedies
  • ear candles

It goes on to say that “The principles of AD make no sense from a scientific perspective and there is no clinical evidence to support them. Music to the ears of many, whose New Year resolutions may consist of all manner of alternative detoxifications!

Contact us

For skin care advice that is firmly back by scientific evidence, contact Elan Medical Skin Clinic.

For more evidence, read this.