There is confusion surrounding what natural skincare means, with many leading beauty brands exploiting the natural trend, by combining natural with synthetic ingredients. Facilitating marketing departments with the opportunity to present products, as being more natural and green than they actually are.
Synthetic ingredients are used in place of natural ones primarily because they are cheaper. Natural ingredients are always preferable because they mimic the behaviour of the skin and work in harmony with it. Synthetic ingredients have the opposite effect and confuse the skin’s balance because they feel unfamiliar to it.
What is a moisturiser
A moisturiser is defined as having, humectant, emollient and occlusive properties.
How Humectants Work
Humectants are proteins that work by bonding with water molecules locked inside the dermis(the second layer of skin), and pulling them to the epidermis (the top layer of skin). Humectants can also attract moisture from the air, boosting the skin’s hydration further.
Glycerine: This humectant has been used in formulations for decades. Derived from natural substances, it is produced by hydrolysing fats and fermenting plant sugars.
Sorbitol: A sugar from alcohol, found in berries, algae and seaweed. It is particularly effective at, drawing moisture from the atmosphere to the epidermis.
Hyaluronic Acid: A gel-like water molecule, much-lauded because it can hold up to 1000 x its weight in water.
How Emollients Work
Emollients and moisturisers are often confused as being the same thing. They are not, an emollient is a component of a moisturiser. When the epidermis is dehydrated, skin cells fall off, creating gaps. Emollients fill these gaps with lipids, both smoothing and softening the dermis.
Shea Butter: Pressed from the nut of the shea tree and packed with vitamins and fatty acids, makes it an extremely effective emollient.
Jojoba Oil: This is an excellent emollient because it is nearly identical, to the sebum that the skin produces naturally. This means it is easily absorbed by the epidermis, helping to keep the skin perfectly balanced.
Squalane: Mostly derived from olive oil. Rich in anti-oxidants to fight free-radicals that cause premature ageing of the skin.
How Occlusives Work
Occlusives repel water so work by preventing moisture escaping from the skin. They are generally lipid (oil) based, forming a protective barrier in the skin. Particularly effective are those high in oleic acid, (having a thicker, greasier feel), such as avocado, olive and coconut oils. It is important to make sure the right ones are in your moisturiser as the wrong ones can be comedogenic, blocking pores, especially on oily skin leading to acne and similar skin conditions.
Cocoa Butter: Has fantastic occlusive properties, working additionally as an emollient. Containing high levels of vitamin E, this anti-oxidant, offers an extra layer of protection from UV and other environmental stressors.
Lecithin: Rich in essential fatty acids, (a vital building block for healthy skin). Derived from plant sources including sunflower and soy.
Avocado Oil: As well as effectively protecting the skin, high levels of oleic acid and essential fatty acids, meaning this oil has anti-inflammatory properties.
Resources To Choose The Right Moisturiser:
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