Moisturisation. Your skin is parched and flaky; add a moisturizer and voila – smooth, glowy skin with plumped-out wrinkles. Simple right? We’ve got this part of skincare waxed.
Nope. Quite the opposite of simple in fact. While at its most pared down, we need to feed water to the skin to hydrate it combined with something oily to prevent the water from evaporating back out, the ins and outs of moisturisers are pretty complex.
Choose a moisturiser based on your skin type but always focus on skin-identical ingredients and ideally tick all 3 of the humectant, emollient + occlusive boxes.
Skin-identicals are really nice ingredients that can be found in the skin or mimic the things that can be found in the skin naturally. Ceramides, cholesterol, squalene and free fatty acids (think omegas and linoleic acid) are lipids in the outermost layer of the skin called the stratum corneum. They form part of the gooey stuff between the skin cells which glues them together to form a good skin barrier, ‘water-proofs’ the skin and which allows for communication between our skin cells.
And when it comes to skin, barrier is everything. It is what makes the difference between healthy, comfortable skin and eczema, infections, inflammation and dehydration. Essentially, it keeps the bad stuff like bacteria and pollution from getting in, while stopping the good stuff, like moisture, from escaping into the atmosphere. There is even an ominous sounding name for this process: transepidermal water loss (TEWL). A skin with a compromised barrier is not a happy one, or a youthful one. It becomes dull, dry, flaky, red, sensitive – and older-looking.
Let’s get down to basics…
But if our skin is already more than half fat already and we are like walking wagyu, why do we need to be applying more? Cold weather, hot water and dry heat can all deplete our natural skin ceramides and essential fatty acids. It goes without saying that this is not good news for keeping skin plump, supple and hydrated and able to deal especially with winter life.
We also lose ceramides and essential fatty acids as we age. By the time we are in our 30’s, we will have lost around 40% of our skin’s ceramides and by our 40’s, they will be down by 60%. So if the fine lines around your eyes have you looking into the mirror with horror, it’s time to up your lipid game.
Don’t forget to protect your own skin lipids. Apart from choosing products which contain these essential lipids, you need to protect your innate ones by avoiding soap which is too alkaline and which contains harsh surfactants which strip the skin. An alkaline pH blocks the enzymes we need to manufacture our own ceramides. Another reason why our skin feels dry, tight and uncomfortable after too much washing with the wrong soap. Over-exfoliation is another lipid stealer.
You can also eat good fats to nourish your skin from the inside out. Another reason to munch on almonds, throw some chia seeds over your breakfast oats, justify your salmon sashimi addiction and justifiably argue that avocado belongs at every meal. These good fats are intensely anti-inflammatory and as we all know, inflammation is the villain of the 21st century and one of the most critical causes of aging.
So when it comes to protecting your skin barrier, layer your moisturizing products for maximal hydration from the most water-based products to the ones with the highest oil content.
Start with The Complete Serum with hyaluronic acid which draws water into the skin, apply the Face Crème Originale containing ceramides, squalene and d-panthenol along with a troop of other skin barrier loving oils to fortify even the most compromised of skins and then seal the deal with the NovA or SupernovA Oil.