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Skin Moisturizers

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The body's largest organ, the skin, has a very efficient system for retaining moisture. A protective layer of sebum - a complex mix of wax esters, free fatty acids, cholesterol, and glycerides - is released from the skin's sebaceous oil glands.

The body’s largest organ, the skin, has a very efficient system for retaining moisture. A protective layer of sebum - a complex mix of wax esters, free fatty acids, cholesterol, and glycerides - is released from the skin’s sebaceous oil glands. This oily substance not only prevents excess moisture loss from skin’s surface but also protects the skin from bacterial infections.

The production of sebum declines with age. The use of chemical solvents and detergents, such as dishwashing liquids, household cleaners, and even facial cleansers, damage sebum’s protective barrier. Natural moisturizers enhance the effectiveness of sebum.

The cold dehydrating winds of Canadian winters act like desiccators on exposed skin. Dry and dusty heated houses and cars sap moisture from our bodies. Protection from dehydration is essential to avoid dry, cracked, and painful skin conditions. When the humidity outside is so low that even a short walk makes the skin on your hands look as if they’ve been dipped in white chalk, it’s very important to use a natural high-quality moisturizing lotion.

For a moisturizer to be effective, the ingredients must penetrate many layers of the skin’s epidermis to reach the cell-creating layers of the dermis. Here, cells continuously move up to replace the dead cells on the surface of the epidermis.

Ingredients such as chamomile, rosehip, and aloe vera bring hydrating and moisturizing properties to both the dermis and the surface layers of the skin. Chamomile ensures softness; rosehip, high in vitamin C, helps to reduce surface scars; and aloe vera plumps up the cells, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Creams and lotions containing oil and water-soluble vitamins, in particular vitamins A, B, C, and E, will promote healthy cell growth. A recent addition to moisturizer formulas, the antioxidant co-enzyme Q10, when combined with vitamin E, promotes effective cell growth properties.

What’s important in the formulation of a moisturizer is that the base oils allow the beneficial ingredients to penetrate the cell production area of the dermis. Many bases are used in moisturizer formulas. Whereas oils such as mineral oil will clog the pores, preventing beneficial ingredients from passing through the skin’s surface, more effective bases have a composition similar to our own body oils. Almond oil, borage oil, and evening primrose oil are all great choices as the base for a moisturizer.

Moisturizing lotions formulated with natural oils have a shorter shelf life so always purchase small quantities. If a product develops a rancid smell, throw it away. It will do more harm than good on your skin.

Keep a moisturizer in each bathroom and by the kitchen sink and make a habit of smoothing a small amount on your hands and face after washing them. Prevention is the key word, as it is harder to correct a neglected skin condition than to keep skin soft and moisturized on a daily basis.

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