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A deep look into moisturizing and moisturizing ingredients
elena lezhneva
A deep look into moisturizing and moisturizing ingredients

Basic skincare steps such as “cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing” are no news. And although moisturizing is a very common procedure, this step is still not clear to many. Do we really "pour" water into the skin? Where does this water go?

What is moisturizing really

The problem of hydration is more complicated than just “adding water to the skin”. Skin dryness could be different: dry skin is a skin type, a permanent characteristic; dehydration is a temporary condition that can be treated. Dry skin doesn’t have enough oil, and dehydrated lacks water. The dry skin doesn’t shine, pores are small, and it’s prone to cracking, fine wrinkles and peeling. Dehydrated skin can be oily, but feel dry, tight and dull, and at the same time have an oily shine.

Every day we gradually lose water. First of all, it evaporates from the skin - this process is called transepidermal loss, TEWL. Such a loss is presumably increased if the barrier function of the skin is impaired or when we wash too often - in the long term, this leads to dehydration and a lifeless look. In addition, the level of moisture in the skin decreases with time. During ageing, collagen, elastin, glycosaminoglycans, which make the skin elastic, degrade and at the same time their reproduction degrades too. The more mature the skin, the less moist and elastic it is - therefore it doesn’t look smooth.

Nevertheless, we can change what happens to the water in the body.

  • Replenish water supply with liquids through drinks and food;
  • Humidify the air in the room;
  • Use cosmetics with occlusal and water-binding components.

By the way, it's still not proven how the famous two litres of water per day affect the skin. A three-year study, in which the volunteers daily drank two litres of water for a month, showed that the deep hydration of the skin among participants increased, while the transepidermal water loss didn't change. The question of the benefits of such an experiment, however, remains open: forcibly pouring in water, we affect not only the skin but the whole body - and not always positively. 

moisturizing skincare

How moisturizing ingredients work 

The word “moisturizing” on the label most often hides three different types of ingredients. Water-binding components attract water and keep it in the skin. Occlusal - reduce moisture loss. Softening - fill the gaps between the scales, smoothing the texture of the skin, and at the same time improving its barrier functions. The latter include lipids, oils, fatty alcohols. Only the first two types of ingredients are directly related to water: one keeps it, and the other works like a locked door and prevents moisture from escaping. 

Occlusive ingredients are literally called “locks”: they create a film on the skin, which reduces transepidermal fluid loss. These include petrolatum, lanolin acid, mineral oil, cholesterol, beeswax, squalene. Some ingredients, such as cyclomethicone and dimethicone, are also softening, they fill the space between the scales, and at the same time create a protective layer. Products with occlusive components should be applied to moist skin, so that they have something to “lock up”. It's recommended to distribute the cream between the palms and apply in the direction of growth of hair follicles. 

moisturizing skincare

Do I need to moisturize? 

It depends on your skin type, really. Dry skin should be actively moisturized for life: due to the low amount of lipids and NMF, its skin barrier is permanently damaged, and the transepidermal water loss is accelerated - and therefore occlusive products and softening components will help it look more elastic. Dehydrated skin, however, should be moisturized until it heals. After that, you can return to a minimum daily care. Here, among other ingredients, water-binding components come in handy to keep more water. 

Sufficient moisturizing for normal skin is cosmetics with water-binding and occlusive ingredients that will resist natural transepidermal moisture loss. Moisturizing oily skin and skin with acne should be moderate - in this case it's worth checking the composition of the cream for comedogenicity. And don't overdo it: studies show that assiduously applying moisturizer on normal skin (three times a day for a month) can make it more sensitive to irritants. 

- Korean Kiwi Beauty 

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