How Moisturisers Really Work

 In Skin Care

Moisturiser is a staple in most women’s and men’s skincare regimes, but whether you’re fighting dryness caused by the climate and changing seasons or simply trying to keep your skin soft and supple, it’s important to know how it works and why you need it. Many people just grab a cheap or easy option from the supermarket without considering their skin type or age, which are both extremely important factors in achieving the most healthy, glowing skin possible!

The skincare experts at Nuriss explain how this miracle formula actually works and how to choose the right one to suit you.

Why is moisturiser important?

Your skin is made up of three layers; the epidermis (outer layer), the dermis (middle layer) and the hypodermis (inner layer). The middle layer has a number of functions – probably the most important being the storage of water. However, everyone naturally loses water through a process in the skin called transepidural water loss. Although the epidermis can help with preventing this water loss, moisturisers are used to help restore it and protect it.


The chemistry of moisturising

What follows are three different kinds of moisturisers, their methods of moisturising and hydrating, and some important pros and cons…

Occlusives – Petrolatum

Example: Vaseline.

This kind of moisturiser prevents water loss by forming a barrier in the epidermis. Although it is a good form of moisturiser, it can be greasy, meaning it’s not a great option for people with oily skin or enlarged pores.

Humectants – Glycerin and Sorbitol

Example: Hydrating moisturisers.

This kind of moisturiser helps draw water from the dermis to the epidermis and can even draw in external moisture from the atmosphere. However, this kind of evaporation from the skin can lead to further dryness, so it’s more suitable for people with naturally oily skin rather than dry skin. Hydrating the skin makes helps increase plumpness and suppleness, while heavier oil-based moisturisers help the skin become soft and smooth.

Emollients – Glycol Sterate and Cholesterol

Example: Moisturisers that treat skin conditions, such as eczema.

Emollients also work by forming a barrier to water loss. They help replace absent skin lipids and smooth rough skin. If you have a skin condition such as eczema or rosacea, it is important to see a professional for the best treatment options and products to suit your needs.

What’s best for you?

By now you should have a better idea of how moisturiser affects the skin, but figuring out the best method for you can still be a little bit tricky. Knowing your skin type is the first step, and once you’ve figured that out, deciding on out what kind of moisturiser to use should be pretty easy!
Depending on your skin type, there are specific ingredients you should be looking out for when deciding what to buy.

Normal Skin
If you have normal skin, it’s all about maintaining moisture balance, so it’s imperative that you use a light, water-based moisturiser.

Dry Skin
Oil-based moisturisers work best for people whose skin is a little on the dry side. Ingredients like dimethicone and hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants such as grapeseed oil or avocado oil are great for this skin type.

Oily Skin
Non-comedogenic, water-based moisturisers will be your best friend if you have oily skin. Another ingredient you should keep an eye out for is salicylic acid, as it can control oil and unclog pores.

Mature Skin
Ageing skin can benefit from a whole host of ingredients, such as petrolatum-based moisturisers and also products that include peptides, which work to reverse the effects of ageing and sun damage. Tretinoin and retinoids help to unclog pores, boost collagen and reduce fine lines, and antioxidants help to protect the skin from UVA and air pollution.

Sensitive Skin
For sensitive skin, it is best to avoid scented, dyed and generally harsh products that may irritate the skin. Moisturisers containing ingredients such as aloe and chamomile will be beneficial for easily irritated skin types.

Find out more about what different ingredients can do for your skin in Dr Anita’s top 10 skincare ingredients article.

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