I can guarantee all of my readers have a moisturizer in their bathroom right now. There are all sorts of moisturizers, from ones formulated for the body, the feet, the hands, your cuticles and face to the eye area. All of them work on the same principles, but they are formulated to provide the best performance in that particular body area.
Quick, go and check out the Epidermis Post again.
Why the body needs moisture
The body’s “waterproofing” mostly consists of that lipid in between the cornified cells. There are quite a few different kinds of lipids in this layer including cholesterol (25%), free fatty acids (10-15%), ceramids (40%) and the rest is triglycerides, stearyl esters, and cholesterol sulfate. Some have suggested that the balance of all these particular lipids within the epidermis is very important for the function of the cells of the epidermis. All of these lipids are made by the cells of the epidermis as they move upwards through the epidermis, stored in the cells in little packets and then released out into the space between the cells. After release, a lot of the lipids are transformed through chemical reactions into slightly different lipids, and disruption of this process can harm the barrier function of the skin and lead to water loss.
Studies have shown though, that you can have all of the lipids in the world, but without a bit of moisture the skin loses its pliability, and becomes dry, hard and scaly. Within the epidermis (which is about 30% water), the water content is lower closer to the surface and about 1/3 of this water is within the lipid layer. The water is very important for the health of the epidermis, which needs to protect itself against water loss to the environment.
Types of Moisturizers
I’ve already mentioned some of these moisturizers with brief explanations in the past, but we’ll go into what these are and their most common examples in more detail now.
Moisturizers basically help to trap, attract and redistribute moisture within the epidermis and most importantly within the cornified layer. By creating a temporary barrier, the skin below is allowed to take care of all this on its own. As this happens, the cells within the cornified layer and the layer itself will swell, creating the feeling of smoother skin.
Humectants are great little things that attract moisture, helping to transfer water from the dermis into the epidermis. When the humidity is greater than 70-80% the humidity can even be pulled out of the air. However, there must be a balance, because humectants can also result in too much water loss from the dermis, into the epidermis and then out of the skin. When this happens, there is a feeling of tightness and dryness to the skin.
Hydrololyzed wheat starch
Seasame amino acids
Emollients are very interesting moisturizers. They typically are water that has been mixed into a lipid, and the lipid can actually replace any areas of missing lipid within the cornified layer! As well, they provide an occlussive barrier, and allow the skin beneath to adjuct moisture levels on its own. The spreadability of an emollient often determines its application, whether it is an eye cream or a body cream for example.
Acetyl trihexyl citrate
C 14-15 alcohols
C 12-13 alkyl ethylhexonoate
C 14-16 glycol palmitate
C 12-20 isoparaffin
Glycol palmitate (palm oil)
Glycine Soja (soybean oil)
Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) Seed oil
PEG-5 tristearyl citrate
PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate
PPG-20 cetyl ether
Propylene glycol linoleate
Sunflower seed oil glycerides
Tall oil glycerides
Wheat germ glycerides
Occlusives may be the oldest form of moisturizer, and lanolin was one of the first used. Petrolatum is very commonly used today. Obviously, what they do is provide an occlusive barrier over the skin, helping the moisture within the skin to stay there and redistribute itself. Most occlusives also act as emolliants.
|Acetylated Castor Oil|
Acetylated lanolin alcohol
Hydrogenated castor oil
Mineral oil- very frequently used due to it’s pleasant texture
Palm kernal wax
Propylene glycol dioleate
Shark liver oil
Obviously, in order to make a stable lotion ready for sale you need other ingredients.
Emulsifier: Helps to keep the ingredients mixed together well.
Preservatives: Again, we don’t want bacteria to grow in our product.
Fragrance: This one should be obvious, but you should know that if you are sensitive to anything in a lotion, the fragrance is pretty high on the list of things for people to react to.
Ingredients to avoid
If you have sensitive skin (meaning, you break out in a rash, not that you decided its sensitive) you might want to avoid these ingredients that are more likely to cause you problems.
Balsam of Peru
Methyl heptane carbonate
Balsam of tolu
Cedar wood oil
Peach kernel oil
Sodium lauryl sulphate
Alcohol or SD-alcohol followed by a number (Exceptions: Ingredients like cetyl alcohol or stearyl alcohol are thickening agents)
Citrus juices and oils
Sodium lauryl sulfate
It should be obvious to you by now that you should definitely be using a moisturizer, whether your facial skin is dry or oily, you likely need a moisturizer somewhere on your body. Keeping your skin moist helps with the skins suppleness, keeps you looking young, and most importantly maintains the barrier function of the skin.
Note that dry skin can not be helped by eating more oily foods or drinking more water (did you think it was selectively going to your skin?), and it can be made worse by bathing too often, using harsh soaps, and low humidity in the environment.
Notice that none of the above moisturizer types took moisture and just put it into each cell in your skin. Emollients have water mixed with them, which is the closest that you come! Moisturizers typically help with the water you already have in the skin, by creating a barrier and reducing water loss which then in turn allows water to relocate from the dermis and into the epidermis. So, the best way to get the most out of your moisturizer is to use it when you have the most water in your skin, which is right after cleaning! Try to seal in and keep any moisture in the skin by applying lotion less than 3 minutes after bathing (this is the time when the epidermal water loss is starting), so you can keep that moisture in the skin. Don’t apply too often (remember that bit about humectants working against you and increasing water loss?), but in cases of very dry skin you might want to consider a very occlusive moisturizer that you use extremely often.
Note that your skin also does not enter a “reconstruction” or “healing” mode at night. The skin acts exactly the same while you are asleep as it did during the day. Therefore, you really don’t need a different night cream. Having said that, your day cream should have sunscreen, but the night is a great time to take advantage of not being seen in public or having to wear makeup, so that’s a great time to take advantage and have special ingredients in a thicker cream!