Moisturiser is essentially a mixture of oil and water. It's supposed to attract and retain water in the outer level of your skin to give you that youthful glow but does it really make a difference?
According to dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook, the enzymes that help renew our skin do need moisture to function properly.
"If the skin's not kept moist the enzymes don't work and the skin doesn't exfoliate," Dr Cook says. "We get clumpy dry skin, which doesn't look great or feel great either."
Reporter Brooke Hanson is going to see if moisturiser actually helps keep your skin moist.
Brooke and her three fellow volunteers are going to go without moisturiser for four days and have their skin's moisture levels measured. They will then use a range of moisturisers for another four days and their skin will be re-tested to see if it's made any difference.
Brooke's fellow lab rat, Steven, is a bar manager in Sydney whose job takes a heavy toll on his skin.
"It is quite a tough environment on my skin," Stephen claims, "with air conditioning running constantly, people smoking all around me and it's pretty hot when people start dancing."
Steven has oily skin and moisturises twice a week.
Fellow test subject Tiina is a naturopath whose job takes her into all kinds of environments. She has combination skin; oily across the centre and drier at the sides.
"There are some days I don't moisturise at all," says Tiina. "I'm very sporadic with my skin regime."
Sound engineer Jules is like most Australian men. He doesn't believe in moisturiser and has never used the stuff.
"I don't think I need to use moisturiser but I guess the tests will prove that," he says.
As for Brooke, swimming is her life and she spends three hours in the pool every day.
"My skin gets so dry from the chlorine that I moisturise four times a day," says Brooke.
The first step is for all four test subjects not to moisturise at all.
"I managed to last four days without moisturiser but my skin feels like leather," says Brooke. "It's really dry and flaky and full of dry patches. Yuck!"
In climate-controlled conditions, with a temperature of 20 degrees and humidity at 50 percent, our four subjects have five readings taken from their faces and an average moisture level calculated.
For well-hydrated skin you need a reading of 45 plus.
Our first guinea pig Steven is pretty close at 44.4. Jules is 42.6, Tiina's on 56 and Brooke is the worst 40.6.
With the hydration level of their skin calculated, the next stage of the experiment is for three of them to use three different moisturisers twice a day, over four days.
Steven gets a brand designed especially for men, retailing at $60. Tiina will use a $25 cream from the supermarket. Brooke is spoilt with a top-range cream, costing $120 a pot. Jules will use nothing at all as a control for the test.
After four days of testing their chosen cream (with Jules using nothing at all), it's time to head to the lab to see the results.
Brooke's score on the first test was a very dry 40.6. It turns out that expensive moisturiser has done the trick and her hydration level has risen to 59.8.
"I'm honestly really surprised," says Brooke. "I can't believe my moisture content on my face has gone up so much since we last tested."
Tiina's cheap supermarket cream increased her hydration levels to more than 67. Steven's went up to 56.
And Jules? Well, he never moisturises but after an unusually long week working in air conditioning, his hydration levels fell from 42 to 33.
The three who used moisturiser all showed a big improvement. Unfortunately, Jules didn't use anything and dried up. Let that be a lesson to you guys!
"I think I will be using moisturiser in the future," laughs Jules. "I've been told I will look like a wrinkled old man in the not too distant future, so let's stop the ageing."
"We need to use a moisturiser to basically make our skin not only look better and feel better but function better," says Dr Cooke. "Moisturisers are really important to hold water in the skin, and when we hold the water in the skin we keep the skin soft and the skin itself functions more effectively."
So we need moisturiser but do we need to pay a high price?
Brooke paid $120 for a top brand cream and her skin improved by 47 percent. Tiina shelled out just $25 for her cream and saw less improvement on the face of it the expensive moisturiser was worth it, however, Brooke's skin was much, much drier than Tiina's to begin with.
"Price isn't the most important thing about the moisturiser that you choose," claims Dr Cook. "What is important is what's in the actual product."
Great news for the family budget as long as a product has the key ingredients, you don't have to pay a fortune for good skin.
These key ingredients are glycerine, lanolin or petrolatum, and silicone. If it's got those, it'll be good to your skin.
Are moisturisers good at preventing wrinkles too, as many adverts claim?
"Moisturisers don't stop wrinkles; they just temporarily make them look better. And certainly dry skin per se does not cause ageing of the skin, that's more complicated," says Dr Cook. "It's due to internal factors and it's due to what we do to ourselves, particularly getting sun exposure and sun damage, which is the biggest single cause of ageing of the skin."
The lesson is to apply sun block every day.
Moisturising regularly will help keep your skin in shape and while you're at it, slap some on your body too it needs just as much attention. And invest in a good sun block.
As for you guys, as Jules discovered, real men do moisturise!