Am I the only one who has come across beautifully packaged, deliciously scented body lotions with promises of Cleopatra-esque skin? You excitedly make the purchase, step out of a wonderful shower, slather it on and get disappointed from Day 1. Trust me, the problem is not you…it’s them…the product formulators and worst of all – the marketing team. The marketing team needs to survive after all, so they tempt us with their flowery ‘caress’ and ‘kissably soft skin’ talk. If I had a pair of shoes for each time I fell for these marketing claims, I would put Imelda Marcos to shame.
At the end of the day, a moisturizer is a mixture of ingredients that aims to hydrate the outer layers of the skin, improve the appearance of the skin, and/or improve the health of the skin. Thankfully I have slowly (and expensively) been able to differentiate a true body moisturizer from expensive goop in a tub by understanding how moisturizers should work.
According to one of my favorite dermatologists, Dr Fayne L. Frey, the skin is structured in a way that it has a normal balance between the production of new cells and the shedding of the old ones. These cells are held together by protein bridges called desmosomes.
For the skin cells to be shed, the desmosomes have to be dissolved through a process called desquamation. The enzymes responsible for dissolving these bridges can only function in a well-hydrated environment.
When the water content in the outer layer of skin decreases, these enzymes become ineffective and can’t dissolve the desmosomes. The retention of these most superficial cells makes the skin look dry and scaly.
Quality moisturizers help increase the water content of the outer layer of skin increasing the activity of the enzymes that break the protein bridge connections between old skin cells. This allows for appropriate shedding of old superficial skin cells resulting in soft smooth hydrated skin.
Understanding how a moisturizer should work will help you separate the wheat from the chaff. A high price does not a quality moisturizer make. Understanding the needs of your skin, types of moisturizer and different cosmetic ingredients will save you a great deal of trouble.
What are some of your favorite moisturizers? Let me know in the comments below.