Free Shipping On Orders Over $20
The Science of Moisturizers: How They Work and Why We Need Them
Happy New Year, Honeybees! I hope all of you out there had a happy and healthy holiday season and rung in the new year in a fabulous way, like any queen bee should. Now that the holidays are over and a new year has begun, I know that many of us are probably looking at whatever list of resolutions we made for 2019. On top of that, if you’re anything like me, the overindulgence of food, alcohol and Christmas cookies has you looking and feeling a little less-then-vibrant at the moment. While I don’t doubt that plenty of us are planning on eating a bit healthier and making it to the gym more this year, make sure to take a bit of time to decompress and take care of yourselves, too. The holidays are hectic, and there’s nothing wrong with taking a break to take a few breaths and use a face mask before jumping into that cardio kickboxing class.
Us over at Drew’s Honeybees have talked to you all plenty about moisturizer so far, including sharing a bit of history on it, explaining why we love beeswax so much and even rolling out a new line of skin balms to help all types of skin. What we haven’t discussed too much yet though is why we use moisturizer in the first place. There’s the obvious answer – to keep our skin, well, moisturized. But what exactly do these lotions and salves and balms actually do when we apply them? What is going on with our skin that requires us to even bother using these products? Well that, honeys, is what we’re going to talk about.
To start, let’s do a short review on what skin actually is before we dive into why we like to put nice smelling lotions and oils on it. Skin is our heaviest and largest organ, weighing anywhere between seven to 22 pounds depending on your height and weight overall. Skin does all sorts of things – it acts as a barrier, protecting our mushier insides from the elements, as well as regulates our body temperature. It can partially store water, fat and metabolic products and produces hormones that the entire body uses.
We have three layers of skin; the outermost layer, the epidermis; the middle layer, the dermis; and the deepest layer, the hypodermis. The epidermis is the thinnest layer and is mainly made up of dead skin cells firmly stuck together. It’s what gives us our skin tone and acts as a waterproof barrier for the rest of our body. The dermis contains connective tissue, hair follicles and sweat glands – this is the layer that is responsible for our skin being so strong yet so elastic. The last layer, the hypodermis, is the thickest layer and is made up of fat and connective tissue.
When we use any kind of moisturizer, it’s primarily affecting the top layer of skin, the epidermis. The reason we need to moisturize at all is because there are a lot of things that can cause our skin to become dry – hot and/or dry weather, bathing in hot water and exercise are just some of the things that dry us out due to water loss through the skin or the stripping of natural oils on it. While it certainly won’t kill you if you have dry skin, it can cause a host of unpleasant issues, such as severe itchiness, acne, wrinkles or flakiness. Also, the lack of moisture can reduce the effectiveness of the protective barrier that skin provides – having dry, cracked skin can make it easier for bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
This is where moisturizer comes in. There are three different types of moisturizers, and it’s important to understand how each one works. The first type of moisturizers are called occlusives, which work by creating a layer on top of the epidermis while filling in any cracks in it in order to seal moisture in and keep the skin protected. Occlusives are usually made from petroleum, which means that sometimes they can be kind of heavy or greasy. However, they’re the most effective type of moisturizing product. Drew’s Honeybees has a line of USDA Organic non-petroleum occlusive botanical balms.
The second type are called humectants, which more or less pull water out of the dermis and into the epidermis. Glycerin is a well-known and commonly used humectant. The problem with these types of moisturizers is that because they’re pulling water out from the deeper layers of skin, they can end up causing even more intense moisture loss when that water evaporates from the top layer of skin. Also, they can feel a bit sticky. A good way to combat this is to combine a humectant with an occlusive, meaning after you use your glycerin-based lotion, put a layer of something petroleum based on top of it.
The third type of moisturizer is probably the most commonly used. Called emollients, these lotions pretty much fill in the cracks in dry skin and provide a bit of a protective barrier, making the skin feel softer and smoother. While this is similar to how occlusives work in that they both fill in gaps and provide protection, emollients are different in that they actually penetrate the epidermis whereas occlusives simply sit on top of it. Pretty much any moisturizer that absorbs into your skin and actually feels nice will most likely be an emollient.
So, there you have it, honeys – your first science lesson of the new year. I hope you’re able to take some of this information and use it to find the best products for you in the upcoming months – especially since winter technically has only just begun. Also keep in mind while you’re searching for your perfect lotion, that one of the best ways to stay hydrated is to actually drink water, which is easy for a lot of people to forget to do when it’s cold out. No matter how you want to look at it, what’s inside really does count for a lot.