How Do Moisturizers Work?

Ask any older lady with baby soft skin for her beauty secret and the chances are it will be a moisturizer. But it won’t always be the newest, most expensive formulation. In fact, many dermatologists claim traditional moisturizing products work just as well as more complex, and more expensive, alternatives, counseling buyers not to believe the hype.

Many dermatologists also believe that over-moisturizing can destroy your skin's natural balance. However, in our climate, it's essential to keep the skin hydrated, and one of the main ways to keep skin hydrated in hot temperatures is to use an effective moisturizer.

So many experts, so many theories, but how much do we really know about the complex structure covering our bodies?

Why Does Our Skin Need Water?

Our skin is made up of three separate layers: the outer layer called the epidermis; the second layer called the dermis, which contains connective tissue, blood vessels, nerve endings, hair roots and sweat glands; and finally the subcutaneous fat layer containing larger blood vessels and nerves.

The top layer of the epidermis helps contain moisture within the skin, and is normally made up of about 15% water. When the moisture content drops the skin starts to look dry and flaky until it eventually starts cracking.

What Is Meant By Our “Natural Moisturizing Factor”?

The epidermis contains a water soluble mixture of amino acids and salts that help skin cells hold in their moisture. This is known as the “natural moisturizing factor” and it limits natural water loss by regulating water flow from the deeper dermis layer of the skin.

Sebum (the skin’s natural hydrator) also helps in the prevention of water loss by forming a barrier on the surface of the skin that delays water evaporation.

So Why Do We Need A Moisturizer?

Unfortunately, being water soluble, this mixture of amino acids and salts is all too easily washed out by strong soaps or detergents, or when our skin is exposed to solvents. Also, both the Natural Moisturizing Factor and sebum production decrease with age; hence, the need for a water-regulating moisturizer.

How Do Moisturizers Work?

Moisturizers add water back to the skin helping to keep it hydrated. When skin becomes dry, surface cells are shed too fast and come off in clumps of white flakes. Repeated use of moisturizer increases the skin’s water content and helps to normalize cell turnover.

There are two key kinds of moisturizers: humectants and occlusives. Humectants attract water from the depths of the dermis or the surrounding atmosphere to help conserve water in the skin. Occlusives create an oily film on the skin’s surface to seal in moisture and prevent it from evaporating into the atmosphere.

Why Do Moisturizers Make Our Skin Look More Attractive?

Many factors affect what we actually see when looking at the skin. These include the brightness and color of the environmental light, the state of the skin and the basic skin color. All of these combine to produce an effect that can alter dramatically depending on the skin condition. We see light that is reflected or scattered from the skin. Part of the light is reflected or scattered from the surface of the skin and part is reflected back from the dermis through the translucent epidermis.

In natural daylight, when the surface of the skin contains adequate moisture and the dead cells have been removed, it is more translucent and reflects more evenly, giving the skin a “shine or natural glow.”

When the skin is dry and covered in dead cells, it scatters light from the surface instead of reflecting it evenly, and the skin looks “dull.” Moisturizers smooth down or remove the dead cells, filling the gap between the skin and its dry cells with liquid rather than air. This makes the skin more translucent reducing light scattering and increasing light reflectance. As the epidermis becomes more translucent, more light can reach the lower layers of the skin and be reflected. This creates the apparent enhancement of our skin tone.

Jergens® Original Scent Moisturizer has been transforming dry skin into evocatively soft skin since its introduction in 1901.

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