Hydrating Skincare Explained
When you’re young, dry skin seems like a blessing — and you likely never thought about which moisturizing ingredients you needed. You had tiny, invisible pores and unlike your peers, you were much less likely to break out. With seasonal changes and age, oil levels in the skin become depleted and dry skin starts to seem more like a curse. When it’s well nurtured, dry skin can appear smooth and matte. When it’s neglected or when environmental changes take their toll, it can become dull, tight, flaky and uncomfortable.
All of these things happen because the oils that your skin is supposed to produce naturally, which are more accurately referred to as sebum, are extremely important. Human sebum is responsible for maintaining the skin’s barrier functions. It is made up of a variety of different lipids that protect the skin and ensure its integrity by sitting in between the dead skin cells that comprise the top-most level of the skin. These different lipids work together, and when one category of lipids is depleted that skin suffers as a whole.
Sebum acts like a security guard, keeping precious and important moisture inside the skin while blocking out external aggressors like bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. If your skin doesn’t produce enough sebum on its own, you end up with the ill effects of dry skin. Thankfully, there are a few miraculous skincare ingredients that can mimic sebum’s protective effects, to banish dryness forever.
Ceramides: Naturally Occurring Protectors
One of the most important lipid categories that make up human sebum is ceramides. These waxy long-chain molecules make up 50% of the extracellular matrix that protects the stratum corneum, the topmost level of the skin. In other words, ceramides are naturally able to fill in the gaps between the skin cells and are a critical component in the skin’s barrier functions. They are key to keeping the skin soft, supple, strong and moisturized.
With age, ceramide levels in the skin become depleted which is why maturing skin is more susceptible to dryness and dehydration. In the short term, the resultant lack of moisture in the skin makes it look saggy and tired and even emphasizes wrinkles. In the long term, low levels of ceramides in the stratum corneum are associated with a variety of inflammatory skin conditions, which lead to redness and irritation as well as damage that can be irreversible in the long term.
Our VITAL C hydrating repair crème is formulated to radically improve the look and feel of ceramide depleted skin. There is no better moisturizer to try when your dry skin’s barrier functions are compromised because it replenishes ceramide levels and restores hydration. It also contains other important hydrating ingredients like emollient linoleic acid and hydrating hyaluronic acid.
Shea Butter: A Bioactive Emollient
Shea butter is one of the most bioactive emollients you can find in skincare. This wonderful ingredient is pressed from shea nuts, which grow on trees native to West Africa. It is primarily comprised of triglycerides, which are fats that also occur naturally in human sebum, usually in the lower levels of the skin. The triglycerides in shea butter consist of oleic and stearic acids bound to glycerol. When applied to the skin, these triglycerides sink into the gaps between dead skin cells, where they combat dryness by acting as softening emollients and keeping moisture in the skin.
One of the most unique things about shea butter is its high content of unsaponifiable triterpenes. As the name implies, unsaponifiables are molecules that cannot be turned into soap. The main triterpenes in shea butter are lupeol, alpha-amyrin, beta-amyrin, parkeol and butryospermol. They have incredibly potent effects, especially when it comes to visibly soothing facial redness and neutralizing the oxidation caused by external aggressors, which is a leading cause of visible skin aging.
Another wonderful way in which shea butter can improve the appearance of dry skin is as a carrier, which is one of the reasons we’ve made it a key component in the VITAL C hydrating intense moisturizer. In addition to its emollient, skin-soothing, and anti-aging properties, shea butter is also a very stable fat that can aid in the delivery of other beneficial ingredients into the skin. In this formula, it aids the skin in benefitting from the water-binding effects of hyaluronic acid and the smoothing and anti-aging effects of palmitoyl oligopeptide.
Botanical Oils: Natural Source of Fatty Acids
Finally, the last class of ingredients that are indispensable for banishing skin dryness are botanical oils. Like shea butter, botanical oils are also primarily comprised of triglycerides, which have emollient functions. The specific fatty acids that make up the triglycerides in different botanical oils impact how moisturizing each plant oil will be, with dry skin benefiting the most from a balanced combination of multiple fatty acids.
It’s with this knowledge in mind that the VITAL C hydrating facial oil was formulated. This lightweight oil sinks into the skin quickly and delivers a marvelous blend of grape seed oil and squalane.
The main fatty acid in grape seed oil is linoleic acid, which is the most prized fatty acid for the skin. Linoleic acid is extremely moisturizing, but its other main benefit is its effect on the visible signs of sensitivity and its ability to visibly fortify skin that has been compromised because of excessive dryness.
The fatty acids are the reason why these oils are so phenomenal for restoring the look of hydration to the skin, but the plant oils in this facial oil also have protective antioxidant effects. They contain phytochemicals that keep the skin looking smooth and youthful by countering the skin-aging effects of pollution and sun exposure.
Though it is technically not an oil, squalane is another plant-derived lipid that makes the hydrating facial oil so nourishing. Squalane is the stabilized version of squalene, a lipid that, like ceramides, is a natural part of human sebum. It gives the facial oil a silky feel and acts as another piece that helps complete the skin barrier puzzle.
It’s worth noting that fatty acids work synergistically with ceramides to keep the skin strong and moisturized, so when the levels of one are depleted it will impact the levels of the other and lead to irritable, dry skin. This is why one of the best ways to eliminate dryness is to use both products with fatty acids and products with ceramides in your skincare routine.