Moisturiser is simply a generic term that encompasses an extensive array of topical creams, gels, lotions, emulsions, and ointments. These formulas may contain humectants, occlusives or emollients in their combination of ingredients.
To choose the best moisturiser for your skin, it’s important to understand the difference between them.
Why It’s Important to Moisturise Your Skin.
The difference between emollients, humectants and occlusives really depends on the benefits required. Moisturisers make dry, tight skin feel better and plump up the surface skin cells to enhance the texture and glow of the skin. They hydrate the outer surface of the skin and help resolve dryness, flakiness, redness, and itchiness.
Moisturisers also serve an important anti-ageing purpose. It is clinically proven that as we age, our skin loses natural moisturising factors such as hyaluronic acid and lipids like ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids that keep our protective barrier intact. By reintroducing these key moisturising elements to your skin daily, you are helping to not only improve the appearance of your skin but also prevent damage because of a compromised skin barrier.
Incorporating a moisturiser into your routine is important but equally important is choosing the right formula. there is a key difference between moisturisers that solely hydrate the skin and those that can offer skin protection. Depending on your needs and concerns, you’ll want to choose a moisturiser formulated with humectants, occlusives or emollients.
Ceramides are often used as an anti-ageing ingredient in skincare products, but what exactly are they and how do they work?
Ceramides are, lipids (fats) that occur naturally in skin. They make up over 50% of the skin’s composition, so it’s no wonder they play such an important role in protecting your skin against environmental threats and helping it look younger.
Ceramides have proven anti-ageing properties. If you compare them to bricks and mortar, skin cells are the bricks and ceramides are the mortar. Ceramides hold skin together and form a protective layer to help prevent moisture loss and visible damage from environmental stressors. Ceramides also help to keep your skin supple.
Besides ceramides, there are two other interesting ingredients: Phytosphingosine and Sphingolipiden. These are ceramide precursors and help upper layers of skin to produce more ceramide, so that skin can protect itself better.
Young skin produces lots of ceramides. But as you age and through sun damage, the quality and quantity of ceramides reduces. This can lead to a damaged skin barrier, causing dry, rough skin, wrinkles, redness, irritation and dehydration.
Ceramides in skincare can replenish the ceramides in your skin. This helps your skin to look and act like younger skin and keeps it hydrated, firm and supple.
Properly formulated skincare products with ceramides help strengthen your skin’s barrier and improve hydration. This results in smoother and firmer skin, reduced fine lines and wrinkles and less irritation.
What Are Humectants?
Does your skincare routine feature products which include drying ingredients like soaps or alcohol? If so, you should consider adding a humectant moisturiser to your routine. Humectants can counteract the drying effects of soaps and alcohols by extracting water molecules from the air and pulling them into the skin’s surface. Keep in mind the term humectant isn’t always mentioned on product labels, which is why you should look for specific humectant ingredients.
Humectant ingredients you may see include one or some of the following ingredients , amino acids (urea), sugar alcohols (glycerol and sorbitol), honey, aloe vera gel, ceramides, alpha-hydroxy acids (lactic acid), glycerine, hyaluronic acid, and others. Glycerine and hyaluronic acid are two of the more commonly used humectants in skincare.
One of our favourite options is the SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Face Serum. This serum recharges dry, dehydrated skin with a great moisture boost . It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid to leave skin feeling supple.
CeraVe Moisturising Cream is an inexpensive product which addresses irritated skin with a blend of hyaluronic acid and three essential ceramides.
What Are Emollients?
Emollients come in the form of creams, gels, lotions and ointments and work to help the skin feel more comfortable and less itchy. Emollients tend to spread on the skin and increase the rate of skin barrier restoration. Lipid application is beneficial for ageing skin where natural lipids have been depleted by makeup removers, astringents, soap, showering, environmental exposure, UV radiation and time.
Common emollients include lipids and oils, colloidal oatmeal, shea butter and isopropyl palmitate. We suggest trying the SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. The formula helps restore the skin’s natural lipid barrier that depletes with age and can improve the appearance of wrinkles and firmness.
For a Pharmacy option, try La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume Intense Repair Moisturising Cream. This cream immediately soothes extra dry and eczema-prone skin.
Cholestrol in skincare.
Cholesterol is an ingredient you will probably be familiar with in relation to general health. However, you probably won’t be familiar with cholesterol in the context of skin health.
Cholesterol is an organic molecule that is added to cosmetics and skincare products to help support the skin’s natural barrier function and improve the moisture content. Cholesterol functions as a skin-conditioning agent and an emulsifier.
Cholesterol can be classified as a sterol, a type of lipid or oil molecule. It is synthesised by all animal cells and has also been isolated from plants. Cholesterol is an essential structural component of all animal cell membranes
What Are Occlusives?
Occlusives serve as a physical barrier to help prevent water loss from the skin’s surface, while protecting the skin from external irritants. The effect is retained skin moisture, reduced irritation, and skin barrier restoration. Common occlusive agents include waxes (carnauba and beeswax), Carnauba wax has very good emulsification properties and excellent oil-binding capacity for ester oils and mineral oils. It also raises the melting point of gels) (silicone, oils (olive and soybean), lanolin, mineral oil, and white petrolatum.
Occlusives often have a thick, heavy consistency when used topically, making them an ideal pick for very dry skin. If you have traumatized or severely dry skin, look to Dermaceutic K Ceutic - it feels like a band aid on sore sensitised skin Apply liberally to compromised or severely dehydrated areas as needed.
Link to SkinCeutical Skincare.
Link to Obagi Skincare
Link to Dermaceutic SkinCare
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