How important is hydration for the skin?
Water is a vital element. Our bodies contain up to 60 % water and our cells can’t function properly without it. The human skin is one of the organs with the highest water content - about 70%. All the water in the skin comes from the body which means that drinking an adequate amount of water daily is essential for keeping our skin hydrated. It is not enough though.
The water needs to be kept in the skin. Water evaporation from the skin’s surface is the process known as Trans-Epidermal Water Lossor (TEWL). It is a natural process and it is necessary as part of the body’s self-cooling system.
Controlled water loss is good but excess water loss is not. Excess water loss leads to dehydrated skin.
The skin becomes dry, lacks elasticity, gets easily irritated and is more sensitive to external aggressors. Fine dehydration lines may appear. Water is also important as many signaling molecules that are responsible for the cell-to-cell communication are water-soluble. Less water means less environment for cell communication and less tissue regeneration. That’s how the ageing process begins.
The factors that control the TEWL are intrinsic to the skin. These are special molecules with the ability to attract and retain water and other skin elements that keep the water from evaporation as part of the natural skin barrier function. The water-attracting ingredients are called humectants.
These are glycerin and hyaluronic acid for example. The skin barrier ingredients are essential fatty acids, squalene, ceramides and phospholipids that compose the skin sebum. When our skin gets dehydrated it means that we either lack water retaining molecules or our skin barrier is disintegrated. This problem is typical for the dry skin type but it may be present in other skin types as well.
For example, mixed and oily skin types may also suffer from dehydration.
The difference is that the dry skin lacks enough sebum to seal the water within the skin while the mixed and oily typeshave excess but unbalanced sebum that also fails to keep the skin hydrated.
So, in order to have well-hydrated skin, we need to have all the ingredients for it.
Hyaluronic acid is the main water-attracting and retaining ingredient in the skin. It is naturally found in the body and can bind more than 1000 times its own weight in water. Having a high content of hyaluronic acid in the skin dermis is a key indicator of sufficient hydration. Hyaluronic acid has soothing and protective properties as well.
After the humectants have attracted and retained the water in the skin the moisturizers come into play. Their task is to seal the water in and provide the skin with long-term hydration. Moisturizers like emollient plant oils, squalene, ceramides and phospholipids are the best options here. Depending on the skin type and climate conditions different ingredients will work.
For dry skin and cold weather rich plant oils and ceramides are better while oily skin, especially in a hot and humid climate, will benefit from the lighter squalene.
Most face creams and serums contain both types of ingredients.
It is according to the individual which type of product to choose but no meaningful cosmetic routine can go without hydrating skincare. Floral waters are wonderful hydrating products. Just spray some of La Thea’s Bulgarian Rose Water on your face and make sure to follow with your favourite moisturizer to seal all that goodness in.