As we all know, moisturizers are a necessary part of any skin care regiment. They are essential in keeping your skin hydrated, which can help reduce and repair some of the signs of premature skin aging.
They work by repairing the skin barrier, retaining/increasing water content, reducing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), restoring the lipid barriers’ ability to attract, hold and redistribute water, and maintaining the skin’s integrity and appearance. Moisturizers perform these functions by acting as humectants, emollients, and occlusives.1
Humectants are able to attract water from two sources: they enhance water absorption from the dermis into the epidermis, and in humid conditions they also help the outermost layer of the epidermis to absorb water from the external environment. Commonly used humectants in skin care products include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, propylene glycol, panthenol, silicones and urea.
Emollients, which are mainly lipids and oils, hydrate and improve the appearance of the skin by contributing to skin softness, enhanced flexibility and smoothness. Commonly used emollients include animal oils, butyl stearate, cocoa butter, lanolin, various lipids, mineral oil, petrolatum, and shea butter.
Occlusives are substances that block TEWL by creating a hydrophobic barrier over the skin. Common ingredients that are found in occlusives are petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil, silicones and zinc oxide.
Choosing A Moisturizer
There are an endless variety of moisturizing products out there, but do you know what to look for when choosing a quality moisturizer?
The first thing to consider is your specific skin needs. Do you have dry, sensitive or oily skin? Thankfully there are moisturizers specifically designed for all skin types. Many of the newer types even have special formulations for anti-aging, skin-firming, anticellulite, and sun-protectant effects.
If you have sensitive skin, or if you suffer from allergies, a gentle moisturizer that is fragrance-free or hypoallergenic may be needed. These are generally milder and will reduce the chance of irritation.
For oily or acne prone skin, choose a moisturizer that is oil-free and non-comedogenic to prevent your pores from becoming clogged.
Choose a moisturizer with a thicker formulation. These will provide a better protective barrier and last longer throughout the day.
If you are frequently outdoors or have a skin condition such as rosacea, look for moisturizers that contain UV filters, which can offer additional protection against the sun.
The ideal moisturizer should be:
- An effective moisturizer – hydrating the stratum corneum reduces and prevents TEWL
- Absorbed rapidly providing immediate hydration.
- An emollient – makes skin smooth and supple and reduces TEWL
- An aid in restoring the lipid barrier, i.e., duplicating and enhancing the skin’s natural moisture retention mechanisms
- Cosmetically elegant and acceptable
- Moisturizing to sensitive skin – i.e., hypoallergenic, nonsensitizing, fragrance free, non-comedogenic
- Offered at an affordable price
Choosing a moisturizer shouldn’t be a difficult task if you keep these important points in mind.
Read more about this article and Skintherapyletter.com: https://www.skintherapyletter.com/2005/10.5/1.html
Madison KC. Barrier function of the skin: “la raison d’etre” of the epidermis. J Invest Dermatol 121(2):231-41 (2003 Aug).