Moisturisers increase the skin's hydration (water content) by reducing evaporation. Moisturizers or emollients are complex mixtures of chemical agents specially designed to make the external layers of the skin (epidermis) softer and more pliable. Moisturisers are mostly used to treat dry skin conditions such as eczema, they reduce water loss from skin by covering it with a protective film. The everyday use of soaps, shampoos and shower gels can remove your skin's surface layer of natural oils. This can make your skin dry and can further aggravate long-term skin conditions such as eczema. Moisturizers prevent and treat dry skin, protect sensitive skin, improve skin tone and texture, and mask imperfections.
How Moisturisers Work :
Traditionally, moisturization was believed to inhibit transepidermal water loss (TEWL) by occlusion. Water originates in the deeper epidermal layers and moves upward to hydrate cells in the stratum corneum, eventually being lost to evaporation. Occlusive moisturization, then, prevents the dehydration of the stratum corneum. Scientifically, the Moisturisers treatment involves a 4-step process - Repairing the skin barrier, Increasing water content, Reducing TEWL, Restoring the lipid barrier's ability to attract, hold and redistribute water.
Basic components of moisturisers :
1) Occlusive oils : They retard water loss from the skin.
2) Humectants : They increase the water content of the skin by absorbing water from the environment and lower layers of skin.
3) Hydrophilic matrices : They prevent water loss and have a soothing action.
4) Others : Water, sun-screens, emulsifying agents, preservatives, fragrances and coloring agents.
5) Special additives : Ceramides, Vitamins, EFA's, Aloevera, Urea, Lactic acid, Alfa-hydroxy acids, collagen, Elastin and Hyaluronic acid.
A moisturiser should be used after bath on a moist skin surface. One may even use a sun-screen during the day and a moisturiser at bed time. People with normal or dry skin can use both creams and lotions which have water in oil emulsion.
Disclaimer*: This article is only for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.