First and foremost to maintain healthy, youthful skin you must have a good cleansing and moisturizing regime. Cleansing not only removes airborne dirt and grime, but cleans away make up and dead skin cells. Cleansing can dry out the skin so it is important to follow up with a good moisturizer which will protect the skin and help it from becoming dry and flakey.
So what is in your moisturizer? In a previous blog I discussed humectants which have properties which help retain moisture, now what about emollients?
Emollients are the oily or fatty part of the moisturizer which prevent dryness and help to soften the skin. They are apart of your moisturizer that when applied remain in the stratum corneum and act as a lubricant.
The stratum corneum is the outermost of the 5 layers of the epidermis and is largely responsible for the vital barrier function of the skin. Before the mid-1970's the stratum corneum was thought to be biologically inert, like a thin plastic sheet protecting the more active lower layers of the skin. In the past 30 years, and especially the past 5 years, scientists have discovered that the biological and chemical activity of the stratum corneum is very intricate and complex. Understanding the structure and function of the stratum corneum is vital because it is the key to healthy skin and its associated attractive appearance.
Plant oils and butters are natural emollients which are also biodegradable and readily absorbed and utilized by the skin. These are the best ingredients to look for in a good moisturizer. Many skin care products however use synthetic emollients because they are not as expensive, these can include mineral oils, paraffin wax and petrolatum based ingredients. Mineral oils however simply coat the skin and can cause irritation as they don’t allow the skin to breathe properly. Silicones such as methicone and dimethicone are other synthetic emollients which can also inhibit the skin’s ability to release toxins and are non-biodegradable.
Everyone loves great looking skin which has a lovely glow to it, so when selecting your moisturizer look at the ingredient list and make sure the section on emollients are going to work for you.