Everyone knows that moisturizing your skin is essential, but do you know why?
Let’s look at this scenario when you’re thirsty, you reach for a glass of water right? It’s the same with when your skin is dry, a moisturizer gives it the hydration it needs. Moisturizers can help to nourish and improve your skin in several ways.
The top layer of the skin, the epidermis, has an outermost layer, called the stratum corneum. This stratum corneum is where moisture content is controlled. Within the stratum corneum, two main components aid in this function–keratin and phospholipids. When the skin is healthy, these two components work in conjunction to keep out irritants and keep in moisture.
However, when the skin loses its phospholipid bilayers, dry skin occurs. The result is potential irritants entering and moisture exiting through the skin.
Thus, moisturizers can be used preventatively or to help restore the stratum corneum to its more normal function.
There are two ways in which to moisturize the skin.
Moisture can be added back into the skin, or transepidermal water loss (TEWL) can be blocked or inhibited.
TEWL is the process by which moisture migrates from the dermal tissues to the epidermis into the stratum corneum and evaporates into the atmosphere.
There are two categories of moisturizers: lipids and humectants.
WHAT IS HUMECTANTS?
Humectants attract moisture, and depending on their size (molecular weight), they are either absorbed into the skin or stay on the surface of the skin. Examples of humectants are glycerin, urea, and hyaluronic acid.
Many of the humectants commonly used in skin care products pull water from the deeper levels of skin without replenishing it. This helps the surface of your skin to look more hydrated for a little while, but as it evaporates (which it regularly does unless you’re in a very humid climate), you’re left with less hydration overall, leading to dryness, dullness, and accelerated aging.
Skin care manufacturers like synthetic humectants because they cost less than natural ones. These will help prevent water loss to some extent, but they provide no real nutrients to the skin.
SOME EXAMPLES OF SYNTHETIC HUMECTANTS:
A by-product of petroleum refining (and natural gas), propylene glycol can help skin hold onto moisture, but it can also dry out the lower layers of skin, contributing to future dullness, fine lines, and wrinkles. It can also be irritating to sensitive skin, causing redness and rashes.
Polyethylene glycols (PEGs), like propylene glycol, are petroleum-based compounds that soften the skin but may be contaminated with carcinogens like ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. These pull moisture from the lower layers of skin but give none back.
These are pervasive in today’s skin care products because they impart a smooth and soft feel on the skin, but these man-made chemicals also form a film over the skin’s surface, keeping it from ‘breathing’ normally. Results may include increased acne and irritation, as well as future dryness.
Urea is most often used as a preservative, but it’s also considered a humectant. It’s been shown to release formaldehyde, a carcinogen, and can increase the risk of contact dermatitis.
These are just a few of the common humectants used in skin care products. If your product contains any of these, you may be hydrating in the short-term, but dehydrating your skin out over the long run.
EXAMPLES OF THE NATURAL HUMECTANTS.
Natural humectants, on the other hand, not only help attract water to the surface of the skin but also deliver hydration and nutrients to the deeper layers, as well. This helps the skin to keep itself hydrated regularly.
Honey has a natural ability to hold onto water (the perfect humectant), hydrating without creating an oily feel. It’s also a natural source of alpha hydroxy acids, which encourage exfoliation. This makes it even easier for the skin to absorb the moisturizing elements.
This sounds like a chemical ingredient, but it’s not. It’s a natural molecule present throughout the body that helps hydrate and cushion joints, eyeballs, and skin. It has an innate ability to hold onto water and seems able to adjust according to humidity levels, helping your skin cope with even dry climates.
It occurs naturally in every living cell, so it’s easily absorbed by the skin. It holds water really well, and it works by finding an equilibrium between the water content in the air and in the skin. Along with the benefits of deep hydration, the texture of glycerin makes it perfect for skin care because it glides on smoothly and evenly.
This is an important ingredient in our Anti-Aging Power Moisturizer, glycerin’s skin benefits are numerous, but it primarily serves to hydrate skin and helps it hold on to moisture.
Glycerin’s benefits also include:
Helping to shield skin from environmental sources of irritation.
Working with emollients and oils to make dry skin feel amazingly soft and supple.
Fortifying and strengthening skin’s precious moisture barrier.
Enhancing the penetration of other ingredients into skin’s uppermost layers.
Improving skin’s resiliency and youthful look.
A little synthetic hydrator may help your skin look and feel better today, but natural humectants do that and so much more, nourishing and hydrating skin to help resist the appearance of aging far into the future.