Moisturizers. Part 2

Moisturizing Serum 

There are four large groups of moisturizing components that are used in the cosmetic industry. Each fancy name you see on the label belongs to one of those groups and can be categorized as certain chemical compound.


The first group is Hygroscopic ingredients. These are substances that easily absorb moisture from the air. Applied on the top layer of skin as a thin film, they slow down the evaporation of skin’s own moisture and share the moisture they absorbed. So the dry top layer of epidermis softens and becomes more flexible showing visible improvement.
They are – Glycerin, Sorbite, Propylen Glycol, Lactic Acid, Sodium Lactate and, to some extent –  AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids).


The second group is called Natural moisturizing factor (NMF). These substances mimics skin’s natural components – organic matters found in cells. This matter has the ability to absorb the moisture and retain it, also gluing cells together with jelly-like “mortar”. Skin’s own NMF’s are present in the top layer of the skin all the time. However they are water soluble and require the presence of lipids as a protective barrier to prevent them to be simply washed off from the skin. This is an important detail to remember.
Those are – Urea, Amino-Acids, Saccharides.


The third group is Hydrophilic Moisturizers. Those, when in contact with water turn into gel. Not dissolving in water, they create thin, flexible and strong film on the surface of the skin that allows the oxygen and air moisture to be delivered, but prevents evaporation. Imagine an invisible mantle that protects your skin from the elements but still lets it to breath.
Well known and popular components belong to this group – hyaluronic acid and chitosan.


The forth group is Hydrophobic Moisturizers. These cosmetic components were in use for thousands of years.
They also create the film on the surface of skin. Mixed with water they become an emulsion, which when drying out forms the protective barrier. This barrier is not as sophisticated as in the case of Hydrophilic films and does not allow skin “to breath” but for centuries it was doing its job.
This type of moisturizers is a bit “outdated”. They have a tendency to attract water from the air, but in case where atmospheric humidity is low, they start to absorb water from the skin, depleting natural hydration.
These components are –  petrolatum, mineral oil (Vaseline), lanolin, vegetable oils, dimethicone, etc.


Also, there is a group of “supportive” components that are analogs to skin’s own lipids. They are essential as in case with NMF to help to retain the moisture in the skin.
Those are fatty acids found in natural oils, ceramids, phospholipids,steroid alchohol, lanoline and such.


Now, when you look at the ingredient list of your favorite cream, search for those components and understand how they work. Some of these chemical compounds have other functions besides being just moisturizers but we will talk about them in our next articles.


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