How to Recognize an Outstanding Moisturizing Product (Part 1)

Many people, male and female, are troubled by a common problem … dry skin, or xerosis … especially in the cold, dry winter months.  In addition, many people live in dry desert-like climates, which can prematurely age skin, without supplemental moisturizing help.  Our outer skin layers need both water and lipids to maintain good skin health and appearance.  Our living skin cells below the outer layers also need water to function properly.  In general, our skin needs to be about 20% water for good health; dropping below 10% is very damaging.  Drinking lots of water may only help at the dermal level, if at all, but epidermal hydration is not helped.  Keeping our skin moisturized, and not allowing it to get dry, is one of the best ways to mitigate skin aging.

Moisturization of the skin means: 1) increasing water holding capacity, 2) increasing lipids in the outer skin layers, 3) aiding intra-cellular hydration for living skin cells, and, 4) prevention of loss of water to the external environment.  Each of these plays a part in maintaining the proper water and lipid balance for healthy skin.  The very best moisturizing products, using all-natural ingredients, will implement all four of these techniques, and thus, address your total moisturization needs for an outstanding skin appearance.    

Since your time is valuable, we will not address all four of these moisturization methods in this one segment.  Today we will focus on the fourth one only – prevention of loss of water to the external environment.  In the past, most moisturizing products focused on this one method.  They would use heavily occlusive ingredients such as petroleum jelly or mineral oils, which form a greasy layer on top of the skin.  This high occlusivity would block water in the skin from being lost to the environment.  Even some of the most premium moisturizers that sell for $300 or more, still use petrolatum and mineral oil as their top ingredients.  The problem with these is that the skin needs to “breathe.”  There must be the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide through the skin.  Heavily occlusive moisturizers that use petrolatum, mineral oils and/or heavy botanical oils do not allow proper skin respiration and are bad choices for moisturizing products; they also clog the pores and block them from needed oxygen, often causing infected pores and acne.  The newer, better approach is to use lighter, more penetrating, natural botanical oils that provide a lighter occlusive barrier while, in addition, delivering needed lipids, antioxidants and essential fatty acids to the skin.  Neither Stemology Moisture Complete, nor Stemology HydroPlus Night Cream have petrolatum, mineral oil or any other highly occlusive, petroleum-based ingredient.  Instead they both provide this occlusive function of moisture retention using Grapeseed oil, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Shea butter, Squalane, and Hazelnut Oil … all of these being lightly occlusive, natural, botanicals which penetrate into the outer layers of skin and leave no greasy residue.   Additionally, being natural plant oils, they deliver many great natural vitamins and antioxidants into the skin.

The next segment will talk about the importance of humectants (water retainers) in moisturizing products, why they are so needed, and what the best ones are.

Dr. Hal Simeroth
Chief Science Officer
Stemology Skin Care