The skin barrier | Herald of the Deccan
Due to a rapid drop in humidity that accompanies the onset of winter, moisturizers have become the mainstay of our skin care routine this season. This basic, yet vital component of skin care has been around for a long time, and we’ve all heard the term moisturizer being used inadvertently, but what do we really know about it?
To understand moisturizers, we first need to understand the skin barrier (top layer of the skin) which is made up of skin cells and lipids arranged in a compact pattern of brick and mortar.)
Cholesterol, free fatty acids, and ceramides are lipids found naturally in the skin that help keep the skin soft and supple by preventing transepidermal water loss (PIE). The barrier also prevents foreign substances from entering the skin, which helps ward off infections. Contrary to popular belief, moisturizers do not add water to the skin, instead they reduce transepidermal water loss, provide flexibility to the skin and maintain skin barrier function. Moisturizers are classified into three categories: Emollients such as ceramides, dimethicone and cyclomethicone hydrate and improve the softness and suppleness of the skin. Occlusives are oils such as petrolatum, paraffin, and mineral oils that form a coating on the surface of the skin and prevent water loss. Humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ammonium lactate, absorb water from the inner layers of the skin or the environment (provided there is high humidity). When you look at the ingredients on the labels of most moisturizers these days, you’ll notice that they contain a blend of all three ingredients that work together.
Hydration may seem like a new trend, but it’s been around for centuries. Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, is said to have used olive and palm oils to hydrate her skin, which are vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid and are still used today. Coconut oil applied 20 minutes before a shower can help prevent transepidermal water loss, promote skin barrier homeostasis and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Other herbal moisturizers that prevent TEWL include cocoa butter, shea and jojoba oils.
When it comes to moisturizing formulations, there are fluid, non-greasy, oil-in-water lotions that are suitable for almost all skin types and can be used year-round, as well as more water-in-oil creams. thick. which are best suited for winter and dry skin such as atopic dermatitis.
The application procedure is the same regardless of the type of moisturizer. A moisturizer should be applied liberally to clean, damp skin, in the direction of the hair follicles, within 3 minutes of a short shower with lukewarm water. In winter, it is ideal to reapply it 2-3 times a day.
An ideal moisturizer should be hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, as well as address any specific skin concerns you might have, and as you might expect, your dermatologist is the right person to choose it for you.
(The author is a dermatologist.)