Woman applying moisturizer

Using too much moisturizer may cause skin sensitivity and dryness. Photo: Getty

Celebrity dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi helps us make sense of our skin, tackling all the issues lying between us and complexion perfection. This week, Dr. Obagi gives a rundown on moisturizer dependency.

While more than 50 percent of women classify their skin as sensitive, no one is born with the condition: It's usually self-inflicted. Contrary to popular belief, the most common cause of skin sensitivity and dryness is the overuse of moisturizers. Many people consider moisturizer a universal cure-all; however, when used improperly and excessively, moisturizer can lead to dependency and skin weakness. Don't resign yourself to a lifelong moisturizer addiction. Strengthen skin with ingredients that activate and stimulate the skin cells and experience naturally hydrated radiant skin.

The true mark of healthy skin is balance without the use of an outside hydrator. While it may be tempting to slather on a daily moisturizer to combat dryness, this seemingly harmless skin care staple can cause skin to become dependent and eventually fail to self-hydrate. The result? A frustrating cycle of chronic dryness and sensitivity temporarily masked by moisturizer, but ultimately left uncured.

The key to treating dryness and sensitivity lies in skin-strengthening ingredients such as Vitamin A and retinol found in my ZO Skin Health's Radical Night Repair. Backed by a full 1 percent retinol, this topical skin saver stimulates cell turnover and collagen production, promoting a stronger and firmer complexion.

As you wean your sensitive, dry skin off of the creamy stuff, it may need some hydration help here and there. Look for moisturizers that provide more than just hydration. ZO Skin Health's Ommerse Daily Renewal Crème is what I call a functioning moisturizer. It has retinol to stimulate cellular activity (so it keeps producing collagen) and anti-irritants to calm your skin and reduce inflammation. You can use it every day, or on an "as needed" basis. This combination of hydration and anti-inflammatory ingredients aids the skin in transitioning from sensitive and dry to healthy and normal.

To ask the good doctor a question or suggest a topic to tackle in a future column, leave a comment below. And check out his Web site, ZoSkinHealth.com for more skincare information.