What we call moisturising is done by humectants (like glycerin) that pull moisture from wet place to dry place, and emollients (like oils and silicones) that seal the moisture in (or out). *more here*. Emollients replenish our natural emollient layer (sebum) that gets washed off by detergents and hot water, and prevent our skin from drying out.
What do emollients do ?Emollients are many different substances, their common characteristic is that they form a film over the hair / skin. They:
* seal the moisture in (or out, when the air is too humid). In effect the skin is moisturised, and softer.
* replenish the lipids of the skin that are removed by cleansing agents that contain synthetic detergents, or by etyl alcohol.
* form a barrier against the environment.
* make the skin feel soft, smooth and slippery, by "filling in the crevices".
Any emollients I might be familiar with ?Sure ! Ever heard of oil ?
Here are some common emollients:
- Fatty alcohols (can be recognised by "alcohol" in the name, for example cetearyl alcohol. EXCEPT alcohol denat.)
- Paraffin (aka mineral oil. Not recommended, petroleum by-product) The problem here is that the may for a too thick layer, excu I recommend using plant oils instead.
- Oils: Especially my favourite Jojoba oil as it is similar to sebum, an oil that is naturally found in the skin. For this reason, jojoba oil helps keep dry skin moist and suppresses the production of oil in skin that is oily.
- Silicones: the water-solubles ones are ok, the more stubborn ones will form an impermeable layer. *Here* is a list of which is which.
- Polymers: polyquaternium
- Lanolin (sheep wax) -- can be comodogenic for some. I love this as a heel balm,
- Aloe Vera
- Vitamins A and E
How to use emollients in your beauty routine:
* Emollients (like an oil or moisturising cream) work best when applied on moist skin (after a bath). That way you are sealing in the moisture.
* I recommend using plant-based oils, and avoiding mineral oil (it´s not very good at retaining moisture, and doesn´t contain all the good stuff that plant oils have).