Jul. 02, 2020

Reading ingredients: 3 ways to hydrate your skin

Proper skin hydration is important for your skin to look radiant. But did you know that there are different ways to moisturize your skin? Depending on the ingredients in your product, you can also find out how a product moisturizes. We explain it easily in the blog below.

Water is essential for your skin . Keep an eye on it's humidity. Especially the epidermis, the outer layer of your skin, is important. It protects you against dehydration and prevents the water in your skin from evaporating.

You have heard people telling you, you should hydrate your skin, especially in winter. But how do you hydrate your skin? How do you know whether or not a particular cream is - correctly - hydrating?

To hydrate, means balancing the moisture in your skin . A well hydrated skin looks healthier and less wrinkles are visible. It is possible to be born with a more hydrated skin , but external factors (such as winter, dry air or the use of improper products) can certainly tilt the scale. Readjusting that scale is key .

But not all creams work wonders, because there are different types of hydration. As there are 3 large groups of ingredients : Occlusive agents, Humectants, and Skin-identical Lipids.

  • Occlusive agents are ingredients that create a kind of film covering your skin. They are greasy, wax-like substances that prevent the water from underlaying layers of skin to evaporate. This collects the water in the epidermis and makes your skin feel hydrated. While in reality this actually does nothing to constructively build up your skin (barrier). It covers your skin, making it “lazy” and provides you with a false sense of hydration. Turning this into a vicious circle as you keep adding more cream to hydrate. It's like using an excessive amount of lip balm, at some point you can't live without it as you constantly feel like your lips are dry. Examples of occlusive creams are Nivea, but also Crème De La Mer. Examples of occlusive agents are paraffinum liquidum, paraffin, or other mineral oils.

  • Humectants are 'hygroscopic' molecules that capture water. Such molecules are naturally present in and on your skin and are called ' natural moisturizing factors' . They hold moisture from the air and thus keep the skin supple and hydrated. Examples of humectants are amino acids, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, urea, ... If these ingredients are present in your cream, they will settle on and in the upper skin layer (the horny layer) and retain water there. Urea even goes a step further. This molecule is able to penetrate deeper into the skin and even hydrate the deeper skin layers.
  • Last but not least: Skin-identical Lipids , as the name suggests, they also appear naturally in your skin. The upper layer of your skin consists of cells (corneocytes) that are surrounded by a mix of lipids, such as ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids. In the right proportions they form a compact structure and thus an intact skin barrier. If your skin barrier lacks essential lipids, you will get dry skin because water from the skin can evaporate more easily. These defects in the skin barrier may have a genetic cause, or may be the result of external factors ; eg when the hydrolipidic film of the skin is affected by 'aggressive' products or soaps. Adding ingredients such as ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids to your creams can contribute to a constructive support of the skin barrier, because these skin-identical lipids are the building blocks of your skin.

You will probably find a combination of all the aforementioned ingredient groups in your skincare products. Although the last group is less commonly used, mainly because of the high cost of these raw materials.

The concentration of each type of ingredients that is needed in your skin care products depends on the extent to which your skin is hydrated and/or low in lipids. Where your specific needs are can easily be measured by doing your DNA test .

Want to know more about ingredients in skincare products?

Skin care products often contain a lot of ingredients in their list of ingredients . Would you like to read more about this and find out what certain active ingredients - such as vitamins - are good for? Then be sure to take a look at our other blogs.

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Everything you need to know about your skin
Skin School
Everything you need to know about your skin