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Skin Care

Moisturization Basics
By Dr. Rick Lin and Dr. Dan Ladd
Jun 6, 2003, 10:09

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Keywords: skin moisturization, facial moisturizers, moisturizing products, skincare regimen

Natural mechanism for moisturization

On our skin surface, there are molecules that form a matrix to retain moisture. These mixtures of molecules are known as skin's natural moisturization factor. Some of these molecules include lactic acid, urea, etc. These molecules form an oily film on our skin to help preserve natural moisturization.

Cleansers

There are two types of cleansers, surfactant based or oil based. Surfactant type is the most common. The emollient based are for the removal of make up and oil-based paint etc. Both types of cleansers
can disturb the natural oily film that preserves the moisturization of our skin. How much damage the cleanser create is dependent on the formulation of the cleanser. Repetitive washing with cleansers can dry out your skin. One good example would be medical personnel who wash their hands too many times a day with harsh cleansers can leads to drying and cracking of the skin. For this same reason, washing your face more than twice daily and showering more than once a day are not recommended.

Skin Moisturizers

Skin moisturizers are designed to maintain the proper hydration on the surface of the skin. Although there are hundreds of different products available on the market, there are only two basic mechanisms in achieving moisturization.

The first way is to increase the water-holding ability of the skin through a collection of molecules called humectants. Humectants replenish the natural molecules your skin already has to provide normal hydration.  Some of these humectants include lactic acid in products like AmLactin.

The second mechanism of maintaining hydration is to deposit oily material on the surface of the skin. The emollient will effectively cover and seal the moisture into the skin surface. The emollient will restore the impaired water barrier functions that are lost from repetitive cleansing.

Facial Moisturizers

Facial skin is probably the most important skin we have. Our faces represent us to the outside world. Because the face is the part of our body that is least often protected from the sun, it often shows the most pronounced signs of aging.  Moisturized skin on the face looks healthier and more radiant.

In 1992, alpha-hydroxyacids (AHA) were introduced as the first effective anti-aging technology available in non-prescription products. When alpha-hydroxy acids were introduced in facial moisturizers, these products took on anti-aging properties. You can find many products today that contain different forms of alpha-hydroxyacids.

Another ingredient added to the facial moisturizers is call retinol. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. It has been show to be effective in improving skin smoothness and fine lines in some studies. It is a cousin molecule of Retin-A, which is also derived from vitamin A.

Next Section: Alpha-Hydroxy Acids




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The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only.  Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician - patient relationship. Consult a dermatologist, if you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease.
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