Moisturizing is one of the most time-tested aesthetic enhancement techniques humans have used to treat aging skin. There are records as far back as ancient Egypt showing the use of oils and other botanicals to moisturize and enhance skin texture. In contemporary times people tend to overlook the importance of moisturizing since it’s considered by many to be an overused marketing term in the skincare industry that is slapped on bottle labels to increase sales. And because moisturizing is an ongoing process that must be maintained, instead of compounding its benefits to last several days or weeks like collagen-enhancing therapies, its importance can be additionally undervalued. But the truth is that there are both immediate and long-term benefits to keeping skin moisture at high levels.
The Multi-Faceted Benefits Of Moisturizing
How Moisture Supplementation Works
The immediate benefits are that hydrating will plump the skin to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. While many consider this a “youth illusion” because it is temporary, keep in mind that over 75% of the body is composed of water, and one reason young skin is so thick is because it’s properly hydrated. So supplementing moisture that has been lost from aging to plump the skin is doing what the body naturally did when it was younger, just now some of that hydration is coming from application instead of being already present.
The long-term benefits of moisturizing are more subtle. Because the skin is composed of so much water, every chemical reaction that happens within it is facilitated by the presence of water. Water is, essentially, a catalyst of these reactions. So keeping hydration levels as high as they were in youth allows the chemical reactions that are constantly taking place to do so at the most efficient rate, which directly effects the health of every single cell in your skin. Cumulatively, the more ideal the rate at which all reactions in the skin take place the longer you can maintain its youth, which includes the slowing down of wrinkle formation over time.
Types Of Moisturizers
There are two types of moisturizers used in skincare products: hydrophobic moisturizers (also known as lipophilic moisturizers) that insulate water into the skin, and hydrophilic moisturizers that bind to water, holding it in place. Lipophilic moisturizers are almost always oils, either biological oils (from plants or animals) or silicone/mineral oils. They form a barrier between your skin and the environment so that water can’t evaporate off as easily. Young skin does this naturally because of the higher amount of sebum produced by healthy and active oil glands in pores. As we age, however, sebum production slowly dwindles and therefore moisture content dwindles as water becomes increasingly able to escape the epidermal surface. This is why supplementing oils to aged skin is so important, because it mimics the kind of sebum coverage that young skin possesses. Biological oils, specifically those from select botanicals, are especially beneficial because they possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients and are much less likely to clog pores (i.e. they don’t contribute to acne breakouts like occlusive, petroleum-derived mineral oils).
Hydrophilic moisturizers work in a different way than oils, by grabbing on to water molecules to hold them in the skin. These compounds vary greatly in type because different hydrophilic substances have different capacities to hold on to water. Some can only grab on to a few molecules of water, while as others can take on several times their own weight in hydration. Only recently have skincare companies been giving hydrophilic moisturizers very much attention since traditionally only oils were associated with moisture retention. The most effective water-binding agents in skincare are Hyaluronic Acid (also known as Sodium Hyaluronate, a powerful hydration-enhancer that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water) and Glycerin (a natural faction of all biological oils that, when isolated, is water-soluble). When both hydrophobic and hydrophilic moisturizers are combined together in a line of products they can create a uniquely superior defense against moisture loss and maximally hydrate the skin for several hours.