So What’s in a Moisturizer?

Moisturizers are used by millions of people to restore the moisture level that is found naturally in their skin. As people go through life and face a variety of activities, the skin’s natural layer of protective lipids gets worn away. The result is dry skin and it can be uncomfortable or painful depending on which degree a person has it. Moisturizers help the skin maintain and repair when the elements dry out our epidermis. They are often complex mixtures of chemicals that come from a large number of ingredients.

Humectants are mixtures of chemicals such as urea, lactic acid, and sorbitol. Some ingredients such as creatinine, amino acids, ammonia, and glucosamine are considered natural moisturizing factors because of their low molecular weight. Emollients are organic substances extracted from wool called lanolin. It acts as a barrier against water loss and softens the stratum corneum by smoothing it out and lubricating it. Other emoolients include hexyl decanol, oleyl alcohol, decyl oleate, isopropyl myristate, and dioctyl cyclohexane. Preservatives are often added to moisturizers to keep bacterias and fungus from growing on them and fragrance is added to give the product a desirable smell.

Moisturizers can claim to do a number of things with little or no evidence that prove it is actually effective. Adding vitamins to products has been a fairly common ploy to get consumers to buy their particular brand of moisturizer in the past. This supposedly will restore the skin’s moisture and repair collagen that causes wrinkles and age lines. Of course, it usually adds to the price tag of the product as well. The ingredients that are added are all inexpensive, but manufacturers know that a price tag is often directly related to how effective a consumer thinks a product is.

Although they claim to cure all the skin’s ailments, complex moisturizers can sometimes have the reverse effect. Natural skin lipids are sometimes added to moisturizers that in the correct proportion promote healthy skin repair. If an incorrect proportion is used, it can delay the skin’s natural ability to repair damaged skin. Knowing what is inside a moisturizer can help a knowing consumer which is the best product for their particular skin type.

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