Moisturiser has generally been a tool for keeping skin from becoming dry, and alleviating dry skin once it appears, but that’s not its only use. It can be used to prevent irritation too.
- Moisturiser can alleviate skin dryness and irritation and prevent its return
- Different moisturisers perform differently based on their composition
- Moisturisers were highly effective against signs of eczema in people with mild eczema
Dryness is most commonly linked to an impairment of what’s known as the skin’s barrier function. That is, the skin’s ability to protect itself by creating a barrier to the outside world. When this barrier function is interrupted, skin conditions arise like eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis.
Moisturisers have multiple functions besides moistening. These effects are largely dose-dependent, so not enough doesn’t work, and too much can have a smothering effect.
We don’t like applying creams that don’t smell good, or that are too oily, so getting the composition of a cream right for people – us – is a challenge for researchers and developers.
How it works
The ingredients of the moisturiser stay on the surface of the skin, but some can be absorbed, evaporate, and be rubbed or wiped off by clothing. The active ingredients are usually fats and ingredients that stop the product from going bad, and help it stay on skin.
Some moisturisers are superior to others – a moisturiser full of fragrances and non-friendly ingredients will make the skin quality worse, while a high-quality product will improve the barrier function and the state of the skin. Cheap moisturiser will very likely not be useful to skin, so quality does matter.
Ingredients and their outcomes on skin
- Emulsifiers may weaken barrier function
- Petroleum-based ingredients offer an immediate barrier-repairing effect
- Some fats may reduce evaporation and water loss
- Moisturiser containing urea can reduce water loss
- Sodium lauryl sulphate causes irritation, especially to inflamed skin
Moisturiser use should be tailored for the skin condition, since problems are a bit different to each other and benefit from specific moisturising actions.