The main consideration when designing your skin care routine
When it comes to skin care hydration is one, if not the main, consideration. Whether you like it or not, the skin loses water constantly. The progressive loss of water means the loss of elasticity, collagen and elastin fibres leading to the visibility of wrinkles and furrows. There is no denying that when the skin is properly hydrated those effects are delayed and it looks younger.
Why our skin loses water?
The dermis in humans is estimated to be 2 millimetres thick; 50% of which is water. The water in the epidermis – the outermost layer in the skin – has just 10% of water. Not much, isn’t it? Not necessarily. As the water in the air is even lower that the one in the epidermis this water tend to slowly evaporates.
Is moisturizing and oiliness equivalent?
Do not confuse moisturizing with oiliness, this is a common mistake when choosing the skin care routine. The level of hydration on the skin is one think; the amount of oil sebum is another. Is your skin unsightly shine and tends to be oily? This does not mean that it is moisturized. Sometimes it may be just the opposite as the skin, when is very dry, try to protect itself by releasing residual moisture. On the other hand, when applying a really thick cream does not equal more hydration. In those cases, a nearly impermeable mask can be created on your skin giving a signal to the cells to not produce a natural sealant layer. The solution for both cases is hydration.
Let’s summarize it in three sentences:
- Oily skin is a skin type that produces too much oil.
- Dry skin is a skin type that lacks a “normal” level of oil.
- Whatever you skin is dry or oily, a dehydrated skin is the one that lack water.
Regardless of skin type you should always protect it against dehydration. To do so, you should work on two directions, avoiding the water on your skin to run away and add enough water into your body to keep it hydrated.
NMF – Natural Moisturizing Factor
The skin is naturally equipped to be protected against the evaporation of water. At the epidermis, the intercellular matrix is the skin’s first line of defence against water loss. Many water soluble ingredients in the intercellular matrix bind the water and ho
ld it onto it slowing down its evaporation. This “self-moisturizing mechanism” is known as Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). The NFM compounds in combination with a coat of water-lipids is a skin protection not only against water loss, but also defends against harmful environmental factors such as dust, smog, cigarette smoke, air conditioned rooms, exposition to sunlight, etc. Some of the NFM compounds are amino acids, pyroglutamic acid, sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, lactate, urea, creatinine and uric acid.
NMF compounds are highly efficient humectants that attract and bind water from the atmosphere. This process can occur even at a relative low humidity as 50% allowing an adequate level of water. Hydrated NMF compounds forms ionic interactions with keratin fibres reducing the intermolecular forces between the gibers and thus increasing the elasticity of the stratum corneum (the most external layer of the epidermis). This elasticity serves to make the skin appear healthy and supple and to help prevent cracking or flaking. As can be seen, even that the stratum corneum are recognized as biologically dead cells they are very active from a biochemical point of view.
There are several reasons where the NMF compounds are reduced. The use of strong soaps in your skin care routine, long hot showers, cold and dry environments and the exposition to UV light are the main reason for NMF reduction. In addition, aging appears to dramatically reduce the amino acid content in the stratum corneum which drives to easier dehydration of the skin and it consequent loss of elasticity and healthy appearance.
How to avoid dehydrated skin?
First and most important, drink enough liquids during the day. It is not a matter of drinking two litters of water before breakfast but drinking liquids all over the day. If the whole body is not properly hydrated all organs will suffer from dehydration, including the skin. It is recommended to take about 2 litres of fluid a day: whether in the form of water or juices or herbal teas.
For those that have a smart phone, they can think about applications as Water Drink Reminder (android) or Drink Water Reminder (apple) which will help you remembering to drink water all alond the day.
Secondly, to keep your skin in shape to fight against water evaporation by adding to your skin care routine product containing humectant. Humectants are moisturizers ingredients which are good at holding water slowing down the evaporation. Some examples of humectant ingredients are glycerine, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid and urea.
All skin types need moisturizing. The production of sebum (high on oily skin) has nothing to do with the level of moisture in the skin. Often oily skin also needs strong hydration especially after the aggressive anti-acne treatment or when using a desiccant alcohol based cosmetic.
Simple solutions really works, do not hesitate to use them for the sake of the beautiful, moisturized skin!