Glycerin/Glycerol

This is what is known as a natural moisturising factor (NMF), these are naturally present in the skin and are vital to keep it hydrated and healthy and in many skin conditions there are abnormalities with the NMF. Glycerin is hygroscopic meaning it easily absorbs water from the air, bringing it to the skin for hydration. It is said to be one of the best humectants and its moisturising effects last even once the glycerin itself is long gone! It can do this as it affects aquaporins which are water channels in the body and glycerin prevents too much water loss via these channels. As well as hydration and prevention of water loss glycerin can influence the lipid arrangement of the skin. In dry skin the lipids are in a more solid arrangement but what we want is called liquid crystalline (i.e.. more fluid) and glycerin can make this happen!

Urea

At first thought this might not be an ingredient you want in your moisturiser as it seems a bit gross to take something from urine but we promise it is worth it! As another important NMF, urea is often used to treat atopic dermatitis as this skin condition causes low levels of the natural urea in skin. Urea is a humectant and an occlusive so not only attracts water but prevents water loss too, and it can diffuse into the stratum corneum, the outer part of the skin, which requires the hydration. Urea has an extra bonus for use in dry skin conditions as it can reduce irritation, perfect for dry skin and conditions such as eczema.

Ceramides

Ceramides are essential components of the stratum corneum, the outer-most layer of the skin, they are vital for the skins structure and integrity so including ceramides in moisturisers helps to improve the skins barrier to hold water in, keeping it hydrated. Ceramides are also particularly useful if you suffer from acne, which causes impaired skin barrier, inflammation and infection as ceramides are depleted. One component in particular, phytosphingosine, is important in barrier function and antimicrobial defence – or in other words the fight against acne!

Petrolatum and mineral oil

These can both fall into two categories – occlusives and emollients so they can block water loss as well as soften and smooth skin. Because they can make a layer on the surface on skin as they are attracted to it, they hold the water in to keep skin hydrated and they sit in any uneven spaces to make skin feel smoother. Petrolatum can penetrate the upper layers of the skin and acts to make the skin produce more lipids and fatty acids which will mean the skin has a better structure to help it function as a good barrier. Mineral oil is a derivative of petrolatum and it is attracted to skin it binds to it much better than other oils making a really good barrier to stop water loss, but mineral oil is also used against nappy rash and eczema.

Shea Butter

We love a good mositurising butter and shea butter is one of our favorites! It has anti-inflammatory properties so is great to calm irritated skin. As its main components are triglycerides, a molecule with three fatty acids it will help moisturise the skin and as an added bonus shea butter has antioxidant properties for natural protection from damaging free radicals which are a big part of making skin look aged!

 

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