The importance of moisturising your skin. Part 1

Who doesn’t want glowing, wrinkle-free skin? Did you know that moisturising daily can help you achieve this goal and delay the onset of ageing skin? When it comes to skincare goals, words such as “youthful and glowing” seem to be high up in the priorities of everyone’s mind.

In this two-part series we will be focusing on what constitutes a good moisturiser, how moisturisers actually work and what they do to the skin, before taking a closer look at our hand-picked recommended moisturisers from brands such as AlumierMD, Medik8, and Evolve Organic Beauty...

Moisturising should be a religious part of everyone's nighttime and morning skincare routine, no matter what type of skin you have. For healthy and glowing skin, it is essential to take good care of it, and regular SPF use and moisturising is a key component to achieving this. On a basic level, the job of a moisturiser is to make your skin look plump by keeping skin cells nourished and hydrated from the surface down.

Our skin is the largest organ of the body and is immediately noticed by anyone who sets eyes upon it. Youthful, glowing skin therefore, is an indicator of our general health and lifestyle. Good skin care choices, staying hydrated and obtaining the correct balance of nutrients and vitamins from our diet can help delay the ageing process of the skin and prevent many skin related problems in the future.

The skin is comprised of three main layers; deep down, the hypodermis consists mainly of fat and provides structural support, insulation and shock absorption; the middle layer, dermis is a fibrous structure and densely populated with collagen, elastin, hair follicles, nerve endings, blood vessels and sebaceous glands; and the outermost layer, the epidermis provides a waterproof barrier, regulates temperature, produces vitamin D, absorbs water and mineral nutrients whilst secretes metabolic compounds. All of these functions are better regulated when the skin is looked after and in peak condition.

Water is continuously lost from the skin in a process called transepidermal water loss (TEWL), this occurs when water passes from the skin's dermis to the epidermis before finally evaporating into the atmosphere around us. Many factors can affect the rate of TEWL, including; low humidity in the air around us; injury to the skin; and, topically applied products like harsh soaps, cleansers and toners. What's more, as we age, the epidermis becomes noticeably thinner and more translucent, pores can increase in size and surface blood vessels become more visible.

Did you know that people who start to moisturise in their youth are more likely to have beautiful and glowing complexions when they get older? Become one of these by making sure to buy a reputable product that can help your skin to retain moisture throughout the day and contribute to the repair and recovery of the skin overnight.

However, not all skincare and cosmeceuticals are created equal, and in an ever expanding industry which remains somewhat disappointingly under regulated, it is even more important to know what ingredients are going into your latest lotion or potion and that you are not simply throwing your money away on nice smelling, expensive, branded products. When we learn that the skin can absorb anything which touches it, we should be even more cautious as to what we intentionally apply as part of our beauty regime. Many of us will be surprised to know that despite negative press and emerging evidence that ingredients and preservatives such as; sulfates; parabens; phthalates; formaldehyde; alcohols; fragrances; and polyethylene glycol are still being used by popular, high street cosmetic brands to this day. New evidence continues to come to light proving that many of the aforementioned chemical ingredients irritate and strip the skin of its natural oils, with some claims that additives can disrupt the regulation of hormones in the body, affect the central nervous system and play a potentially carcinogenic role.

So why are moisturisers so important and what do they actually do for your skin?

Moisturising your skin is the ideal way to maintain healthy skin cells and protect them from environmental influences, irritation and day to day ‘wear and tear’. Regularly using the correct moisturiser for your skin type will contribute to giving you soft, smooth, wrinkle-free skin, whilst helping to control and prevent skin problems such as dryness, blemishes and acne.

Moisturisers primarily work by increasing the water content of the skin. Everyone thinks that winter is the time to go hard with moisturisers because of the drying effect of the cold due to lower humidity and an increase in the use of home central heating, but, they are just as important all year round. During Summer especially, ultraviolet radiation (UVA/UVB) excessively dries out the skin and causes the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which, over time, can lead to irreversible DNA damage and the developments of mutagenic lesions and skin cancer. Year round, daytime moisturisers should always contain SPF 30+ to prevent accelerated ageing and photodamage caused by overexposure to UV radiation.

Three of the most popular ways a moisturiser is designed to exert its action on the skin include:

  • OCCLUSIVES - Block the evaporation of water from the skin by creating a water repelling hydrophobic barrier over the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin. Occlusive ingredients are often oil based and leave a slightly greasy feeling.
  • HUMECTANTS - Work by drawing moisture from the dermis into the epidermis. In high humidity environments they can also draw water into the epidermis from the atmosphere. Glycerin is a humectant often found in skincare products.
  • EMOLLIENTS - Similarly to occlusive compounds, these help to reduce TEWL by forming a barrier. Emollients fill the gaps between dead skin cells (known as corneocytes) reducing water loss, they also replace natural skin lipids and help to smooth rough, dry skin.

The correct balance of these compounds is needed to provide the skin with optimal hydration and benefit to the skin.

Application of moisturiser helps to improve the blood circulation in the skin and can help boost collagen levels, which depreciate with age. Depletion of oxygen through reduced blood supply contributes to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin on the face (and body), regular moisturising may help to slow down this process.

Many high quality moisturisers contain many more scientifically proven, innovative key components including; peptides; sodium hyaluronate; vitamins; minerals; antioxidants and plant-based ingredients to form powerhouse products which really do what it says on the proverbial tin. When used regularly, this advanced generation of skincare really does help to firm, strengthen and repair the skin whilst visibly reducing and slowing down the signs of ageing.

Join us in part 2 (How to choose the perfect moisturiser) where we will take a closer look at the formulation of our Serenity top-picks.