Our skin, after enduring years of harsh exposure to the environment, dependent on the extent and type of exposure, may end up looking ravaged. Understandably, many people will want to do all they can to slow down or reverse the effects of the environment and ageing to maintain their youthful appearance. The use of a high quality moisturiser will help to achieve this goal.
The skin is an organ and is the largest organ of the body. It’s divided into three main layers:
- Subcutaneous fat
The use of a high quality moisturiser can help to maintain a youthful appearance
The epidermis is divided up into several layers. The outer layer comprises of a thin, but quite rough, protective layer of dead skin cells (stratum corneum). The rest of the epidermis is comprised of cells named keratinocytes and melanocytes. These are pigment cells, which are responsible for the skin pigmentation.
Elastic and supporting tissue, oil glands, nerves, sweat glands, hair roots and blood vessels are located within the dermis.
Subcutaneous fat is comprised of fat cells. These form a cushioning layer between the deeper muscles and the skin as well as serving as an energy store.
A Moisturiser for Different Skin Needs
Moisturisers come in many shapes and sizes; unfortunately, there’s no single product that will suit all. We all have different needs for our skin and these needs will change as we get older and with the changing seasons. You won’t locate the best moisturiser by visiting your local store and seeing what’s on sale!
Naturally smooth, moist and supple skin exists from having optimum levels of oil, water and special chemicals known as natural moisturising factors. Typically 95 % of our cells consist of water. It is this water content that will determine how supple or moist your skin is. Preventing your skin from becoming dry is a key element to good skin. Letting your skin become dry can also lead to scaling, cracking, eczema, irritation and infections. Contributory Factors which cause and/or aggravate dry skin include harsh soaps, low humidity, excessive bathing as well as hereditary factors. Dry skin can’t be treated simply by drinking more water or from eating oily foods.
Moisturisers can be segregated into three groupings, creams (typically petroleum jelly based), lotions and more recently the mousse based products.
Creams (Petroleum Jelly)
Petroleum jelly’s (also known as Vaseline) origin is in fact from the oil industry. Derived directly from “rod wax”, it is a sticky waste product which collects around the head of pump rods in oil wells (see below for concerns surrounding petroleum based products).
These thick, heavy, sticky and greasy moisturising creams are generally considered to be more suited for use in the winter when dry skin is often more of a concern.
Lotions consist of little or no petroleum jelly. This makes the consistency much lighter and easier to smooth over the skin. Apart from water, the main ingredient used will usually be an oil such as Olive or Sunflower oil. It is possible that after skin lotion is applied to the skin a stickiness may well persist. This can be caused by the high oil content, which can be slow to dry and thus leaving the user with an unpleasant slimy feeling.
These moisturising lotions are generally considered to be more suited for use during the warmer times of the year.
Mousse based moisturising products have recently revolutionised the skin care industry. A lot of people have the opinion that these mousse based products are superseding traditional lotions and creams. A mousse based product certainly will be naturally lighter and easier to apply. A mouse formulation will spread a lot easier and more evenly over the skin. As a result, a much smaller amount is required per application. This allows the epidermis to breathe as well as perspire normally. People who have dry skin or skin which is chapped or sore may also feel that a mousse is not as painful to apply due to it not needing vigorous rubbing in.
Your skin – Caring for it from the inside
To keep the skin well hydrated you should make sure that you consume plenty of water. A “trick” employed by top models for beautiful skin, and they swear by it. If you don’t consume enough water, you will struggle to achieve that glowing skin you are after. Your whole body will be deprived of the necessary moisture it needs, and this will show in your skin as dryness and an undesirable sallow complexion. Hydrate from the inside out. Diuretics should be avoided like alcohol and caffeine. Eat foods high in omega fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, nuts, flax seeds and avocados. Avoid wheat products which have had the wheat germ taken out because they can be extremely drying.
Foods high in zinc, vitamin E as well as sulphur are also very important for keeping dry skin to a minimum as well as boosting your collagen production. Foods rich in zinc will include crab, oysters, white kidney beans, eggs, beef, onions and garlic.
Fruits high in antioxidants like blueberries, oranges and tomatoes, which are high in vitamin C, are also important for collagen production. This will help to plump up the skin. Foods rich in beta-carotene, such as pumpkins and carrots, are also essential for supple skin. One of the very best things you should do for your skin is to consume a diet high in olive oil, which is also rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E.
General skin tips
In winter, make sure you keep humidity levels as high as possible in your home. If the air is too dry, it will pull vital moisture from your skin. Ensure that you use a humidifier to counteract the dry air.
Avoid taking showers or baths which are too long or too hot (harsh temperatures can be drying to the skin). Also, the moment you get out of the shower or bath, be sure to apply a skin moisturiser or a body oil so you can seal in moisture whilst the skin is still wet. Avoid using harsh, petroleum-based cleaners and soaps, as these will strip the natural oils from the skin. Choose an olive oil or goat-milk based soap instead. Add olive oil or lavender to your bath, don’t rub, but pat your skin dry.
Many months of experimentation may be needed in order to find the best skin care products for your skin. It should be apparent within a week or so whether a particular product is right for you. If your skin is becoming dryer or you may develop comedones (blackheads or lumps) then you should stop using that product and move onto something else. Once you have discovered a few moisturising products which work for your skin, make sure you change products fairly frequently as the skin can become tired if you continue to use that same product month after month.
If your skin is dry it will accumulate dead surface cells. This will then become flaky and dull if it is not properly exfoliated. If you exfoliate weekly after cleansing to ensure you keep the skin’s healthy cells on the surface as well as remove any build up of the dead cells. It will also better prepare your skin to accept a moisturiser. Avoid using soaps. Cream cleansers will be gentler on dry skin than soap. Be sure also to use an alcohol-free toner. Nothing is as drying to your skin as alcohol.
When you choose a moisturiser, look out for a product that will lock moisture in but still lets the skin breathe, like glycerine, which also helps bind moisture to the skin, as well as lanolin, which will create a barrier that stops moisture from escaping. It will probably take a while to locate the perfect product, but you will benefit greatly by finding the products which work best with your own unique skin chemistry.
Choosing A Moisturiser
How does one choose a moisturiser that will keep the skin well hydrated as well as delay the signs of aging? It’s definitely not the packaging or the reassuring words from the salesgirl. You should carefully scrutinise the label to find out which ingredients are in a moisturiser.
Once you are aware of the moisturiser ingredients and know which of them are harmful or beneficial for the skin, you are then able to make an informed decision when buying a moisturiser. Another question which people ask is, do moisturisers work? Yes, moisturisers definitely do work. However; you must make sure that you choose the moisturisers which are the most suitable for your skin type.
The primary ingredients in moisturisers are water and oil. The ratio of water and oil that is in the moisturiser is what differentiates one moisturiser from another. People who have dry skin should choose a moisturiser which is oil based and those people with oily or normal skin should choose water based moisturisers. Other moisturiser ingredients which are beneficial for your skin are ceramides and hyaluronic acid which helps to plump up your skin, which gives the appearance of a smooth line free skin, and also retains and draws moisture from the air, keeping your skin hydrated. Another beneficial ingredient is neuropeptides, which stimulates the production of collagen and improves texture and tone of your skin. Vitamin C and E are also ingredients which are present in some of the expensive high-end moisturisers which have great anti aging properties. Vitamin E will protect the skin as well as help in cellular regeneration, making the skin smooth and wrinkle free. Vitamin C will improve the skins elasticity as well as the production of collagen. Other beneficial active ingredients present in moisturisers are aloe vera, coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid and vitamin A.
Harmful Ingredients in Moisturisers
There are many harmful ingredients found in moisturisers, creams and lotions that can harm your skin. These chemicals can clog pores, cause mild to severe irritation, ageing as well as inhibit your skin’s ability to eliminate toxins. Choosing the right moisturiser is extremely important.
You may think that reputable beauty companies would not use such harmful ingredients in their moisturisers, especially when you consider how expensive some of them are. Sadly, many of the most well known moisturisers do contain harmful ingredients which in the long run could cause your skin to dry up as well as speed up the aging process. The following is a list of some of the moisturiser ingredients that might be harmful to you and your skin’s structure:-
- Petroleum Products: Petroleum products such as paraffin, as well as mineral oils, can clog up the pores. This can cause the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads. Additionally, they will slow down collagen development. Regular use of these products can cause a build up of toxins.
- Parabens: This preservative is widely used in moisturisers and other skin care products. They will disrupt the body’s hormonal balance as well as adversely affect your adrenal system. Some research has also connected parabens with cancer.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate: This harmful ingredient found in moisturisers is also commonly found in hair shampoos too. It easily penetrates the skin by breaking down the skin’s moisture barrier. When sodium laureth sulfate combines with other chemicals found in the moisturiser it can turn into nitrosamine which is a known carcinogen.
- Propylene Glycol: This ingredient can inhibit the growth of the skin cells as well as cause dermatitis. Prolonged use may give rise to irritation of the skin as well as liver and kidney abnormalities.
Make a habit of reading the labels on the back of your moisturisers, lotions and creams before purchasing it and don’t get drawn in by the hype and fancy packaging.
The first step is to have an awareness of your skin type. Which of the following skin types do you fall into:-
- Radiant and Glowing skin
- Oily skin that is prone to blackheads, acne’s and pimples
- Dull and Dry skin
- Sensitive skin
- Wrinkled skin
Choose a moisturiser which benefits your skin as well as avoids the harmful effects to your skin. This will help your skin to look healthy, radiant and beautiful. You should take the time to experiment with different moisturisers so you can determine which ones are best for your skin type. The best ones won’t leave that greasy feeling and doesn’t clog up the pores.
Moisturiser Ingredients To Look For
The majority of moisturisers will have basic emollients and skin conditioners. They may additionally contain humectants. Humectants will draw moisture into your skin, which is beneficial if you suffer from dry skin.
Common emollients include vitamin E, dimethicone, shea butter (with strong hydrating properties. It is one of the most popular ingredients found in moisturisers. It can help reduce dark spots, minor scars and premature facial lines. It will help to soften your skin texture. It will penetrate the skin quickly and leaves no oily residue), aloe vera (helps in the hydration of dry skin and aids the healing of damaged skin. It can also prevent acnes and pimples and as well as provide a cooling effect on the skin), and oils (vitamin E oil, almond oil, coconut oil). The commonest humectant is glycerin (will absorb ambient water. Glycerin retains the correct amount of water which will help to maintain that healthy glowing skin. Has the ability to prevent spots and wrinkles and will aid moisture retention, which is vital for the skin). You should expect to see one or more of these essential basic ingredients within a good moisturiser.
Many skin care products around today will contain the popular ingredient hyaluronic acid. This is created as a natural substance in your body. As we get older, our ability to create this desirable acid diminishes, resulting in sagging and wrinkled skin. Further benefit is achieved when hyaluronic acid is included in a moisturizer. It will attract water, it will hydrate as well as plump up the skin. This will help to fill in lines and reduce wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid also supports the elasticity of your skin as well as smoothing out your overall skin tone.
Superior moisturisers will also contain antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E, CoQ10, Wakame, and Retin-A. Phytessence Wakame is one of the newer antioxidants, which comes from Japanese sea kelp. What makes it so unique is that it will inhibit the activity of hyaluronidase, an enzyme which breaks down hyaluronic acid within the skin. Put simply it prevents the loss of hyaluronic acid, and in doing so can slow down aging.
The better moisturisers also will use modern scientific advances in skin care research utilising ingredients which may actually reverse aging. Look for products which will help you to actually rebuild collagen and elastin. Don’t simply add collagen from a jar onto the skin surface (this adds little value) modern ingredients work differently. They will be absorbed down into the skin where they can actually stimulate the skin’s ability to generate new collagen and elastin on its own.