Thursday, 24 April 2014 04:36

Magic of Moisturizers

Written by   Liga Upeslacis, M. Sc.

Barrier function can be weakened by three simple (but major) factors: dry skin/cracks, pH imbalance, and high water loss through the skin. Dry skin loses moisture through the epidermis and becomes weaker. If the barrier function of the skin is impaired, the body is vulnerable and the appearance of the skin is undesirable. Broken skin can be cracked, dry, rough, or a rash and this again compromises the barrier function of the skin. It is important to use a moisturizer so that the skin can act as a strong protective barrier for the rest of the body.

I am partial to B vitamins; they have always been my favorite vitamin group. Using a moisturizer with niacin is the most effective way to maintain barrier function. Niacin, or niacinamide, hydrates the skin over the longer term and improves the hydration levels in the skin, partially by repairing the barrier. The result is less transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Another way to improve the skin barrier is with peptides. Elemental peptides like oligo-copper and oligo-zinc serve as a second-skin barrier, thickening weaker areas of the skin and supporting the skin’s natural resilience.Most clients should exfoliate more often. Make sure they are using a wet, warm face cloth to exfoliate. Gentle, circular motions should be performed on their face and neck at night. It is a great way to stimulate blood circulation, cell turnover, and let the skin breathe a little bit. Fight dry skin by knowing what kind of moisturizer your clients are using. An occlusive moisturizer like glycerin, plant oils, and nut butters seal moisture in the skin, forming a barrier against dry indoor heating. Humectant ingredients such as natural sugars, niacin, urea or butylene glycol help the skin retain moisture. Humectants draw water from the dermis to the epidermis, which prevents cracking and roughness and maintain a strong skin barrier.

AHAs and BHAs
Glycolic acid and lactic acid are excellent exfoliants to brighten the complexion and are effective in concentrations of +10 percent. These acids are difficult to incorporate in moisturizers because of their low pH, which affects the product in two ways. First, it is hard to balance with the other ingredients. Secondly, the pH of a moisturizer should be near 5.5 to maintain a strong skin barrier. It is better to use these acids as a treatment before the moisturizer is applied and choose fruit acids or malic acid in the moisturizer. Salicylic acid, as a butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), causes skin cells to exfoliate more easily because it is keratolytic. Salicylic acid opens pores to neutralize bacteria inside and then constricts the pores so that they will not clog. It is effective at less than 0.5 percent, so it is possible to include it in moisturizers – even moisturizers for aging skin.

Proven and used for decades in dermatology, niacin repairs stratum corneum integrity for a stronger outer layer, resulting in increased hydration, reduced TEWL, and beautiful skin – the same qualities we look for in a good moisturizer.
Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid, niacinamide is a potent cell-communicating ingredient that offers multiple benefits for aging skin or breakouts. During its dermatologic development, niacinamide has been used at 10 percent by physicians and 20 percent in the case of a red, flaky, inflamed skin rash. Cosmetic and cosmeceutical preparations use niacin at 0.1 to eight percent. Niacin at five percent is proven to reduce sun spots and pigment deposits in the skin by inhibiting melanosome transfer and is gaining a reputation for its protective role in sun damage. Niacin mitigates acne and the red marks its post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation leaves behind.
Niacinamide is stable in the presence of heat and light, which makes it an uncomplicated addition to formulations. However, it will affect the dissolution of carbomers, so formulators need to pay special attention to a skin care product’s pH balance.

Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil
Sea buckthorn oil is a nourishing, naturally occurring substance, which has great benefits for the skin. It contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which supports the lipid barrier of the skin. Sea buckthorn berry oil is derived from the sea buckthorn plant, which can withstand extreme salt and dry conditions. It promotes wound healing in the skin, and, when used in the appropriate concentration, it is safe for all skin types.
Sea buckthorn berry oil is a vibrant orange colored oil with a smell of butter, apricots, and flowers. It is added to make a moisturizer oilier, but because the oil is heavy, the preparation will have to address separation during its shelf life. This ingredient will carry a distinct scent and possibly an orange tone.

Vitamin C
Compared to ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate, vitamin C is strongest and most potent in its stable form of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. In this form, it is less sensitive to oxidation and light, which is why it does not turn moisturizers a dark brown color the way ascorbic acid would. It is much more expensive, but needs to be used in a tenth of the concentration compared to ascorbic acid to achieve the same brightening results.
Vitamin C is 27 times more effective in spot reduction when applied topically compared to oral consumption. Of course, there are countless physiological benefits from eating vitamin C-rich foods, like citrus, fresh herbs and kiwis. Fun fact: a compound in spinach, phytates, will block vitamin C absorption, so a spinach strawberry salad will give you iron from the spinach, but not vitamin C from the strawberries.

Plant Stem Cells
Moisturizers are topical treatments that can be applied daily to skin to improve skin health. One new ingredient that has become popular in the past five years is the plant stem cell. The primary mechanism of action is hormesis, which entails providing controlled, low-level stress to the skin to stimulate a healthy response, so that the defense system is better prepared for the next, unplanned, external attack. Its purpose is to increase the skin’s strength and initiate repair to damage caused by the sun and aging factors. Applying a plant stem cell-based moisturizer is another great way to mildly stimulate the skin and keep it in top shape.

Apply, apply, and reapply moisturizer to keep skin strong, healthy and beautiful.

Liga Upeslacis-2014Liga Upeslacis, M. Sc., loves research development and experimenting with ingredients. She has been working in formulation and product development for the past five years and created the Nia-Stem Kx line for B. Kamins Laboratories. Upeslacis has degrees in biological science, neuroscience, and human health and nutrition with an emphasis on nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals, from the University of Guelph.

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