Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and your body is 60% water. So it’s no wonder that properly hydrating your skin from the inside and out is incredibly important for overall wellness. Well hydrated skin not only ensures that your skin is healthy and your body hydrated, it helps you look and feel great.
Why Hydrate Your Skin?
Well hydrated skin appears healthy, supple, and glowing. However, it’s difficult to attain by drinking water alone. As we age, our body decreases its production of collagen which can increase the appearance of wrinkles and sagging. This means that while it’s impossible to completely stop your skin from aging, keeping it hydrated with skincare products can maintain elasticity and reduce the visibility of wrinkles, delaying the signs of aging. On the flip side, poorly hydrated skin can appear dry, flaky, tight, and dull, causing skin to look aged and damaged.
Even oily skin can be a symptom of dry skin. Ceramides are lipids that form the skin’s natural barrier against the elements, helping the skin retain moisture. When this barrier is compromised, whether due to external elements, harsh cleansers, or stripping skincare products, it can throw off the skin’s pH balance. As moisture leaves the skin, it becomes dehydrated, causing your body to produce more oil. Many people treat oily skin with astringents and more harsh treatments that further deplete moisture, creating a vicious cycle.
What’s Best for YOUR Skin?
It’s important to remember, everyone’s skin is different. And skin type can change based on environment (hot/cold, humid/dry), your level of body hydration, where you are in your menstrual cycle (hormonal variations), even what products you’ve been using and how your skin reacts. To create further complexity, a large number of people have combination skin, meaning skin can be drier in some areas, and oilier in others. It’s important to read cues from your own skin, and be flexible about which products to use when, where, and in what combination in order to develop a good hydration strategy as the foundation of your skincare regiment.
The 3 Categories of Moisturizers
Moisturizers can be categorized as humectants, emollients, and occlusives. The classification can be based on their form (water-based cream, oil serum, oil + wax balm), as well as the function of their ingredients.
Humectants draw moisture from the air, pulling it into the skin’s surface. Common humectants include hyaluronic acid which retains 1,000 times its weight in water, aloe vera, lecithin, and honey.
Emollients are ingredients that soften skin, minimizing the appearance of dry, flaking, or peeling skin. They are wonderful for filling in the cracks that form wrinkles. Common emollients include shea butter, cocoa butter, plant oils such as coconut, jojoba, and almond oil, and waxes such as beeswax and plant waxes.
Occlusives such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline), natural waxes, and mineral oil form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. This barrier locks in moisture under the skin while protecting it from irritants and outside conditions that can dry or damage your skin. Occlusives are also wonderful for protecting skin as it heals, for those of you who have ever picked at a pimple and immediately regretted it.
Ideally, good moisturizing products will contain ingredients with humectant, emollient, and occlusive properties in the right ratios that cater to your specific skin type’s needs. This is one reason that balms are currently popular—balms are oil and wax based moisturizers with both emollient and occlusive properties. They are better at locking in moisture and protecting your skin from the elements than water-based moisturizers, which feel hydrating but evaporate quickly, sometimes further stripping your skin of moisture. Skincare products that contain shea butter provide even more coverage, as shea butter acts as a humectant, emollient, and occlusive. When formulated within skin care products rather than used as a base, shea butter is excellent for hydration and protection, without clogging pores.
How Do I Chose?
It’s important to find a good moisturizer that helps you create a healthy, hydrated baseline for your skin that you can use daily. Other products such as a hydrating serum to revive dehydrated skin, or gentle exfoliants to clear dead skin cells, can be on occasion or to spot treat issues, being mindful not to throw your skin off balance.
Other ingredients to look for are ingredients with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Inflammation in the skin can cause redness, puffiness, and blotchiness, as well as skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. One reason why hemp-extracted CBD oil and arnica montana are becoming so popular in skincare products is due to their anti-inflammation properties. They serve to reduce inflammation and calm the skin. Antioxidants such as green tea extract and rosemary are also wonderful in reducing free radicals that can attack and damage skin. These powerful antioxidants work to balance skin by reducing pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. Rosemary is also antibacterial, which is great for acne.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to skincare products. How and when you use different products will be determined by how your skin uniquely reacts. If you are looking for all natural, plant-based products that have taken these hydration and protective factors into consideration, consider trying out Body + Soul’s Pure Glow Skin Conditioner and Miracle Eyes Firming Eye Balm.
Both products feature plant-based emollients, occlusive, and humectants as well as herbs with hugely beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Pure Glow was designed to provide a baseline of hydration and protection for the face while Miracle Eyes targets the area around the eyes where puffiness and fine lines can be most prevalent.
Both are balms featuring a coconut oil and natural wax base meant to lock in moisture while forming a protective barrier on the skin (it’s important to gently massage in both products until fully absorbed, so the wax forms a protective layer to lock in the beneficial oils). They include herbs such as hemp-derived CBD oil, arnica montana, rosehip oil, green tea extract, and rosemary along with a host of other botanicals to calm inflammation, fill in fine lines, balance the skin, and provide a natural radiant glow. All while being gentle on the skin, as the formulas feature zero harsh chemicals that can strip the skin. This means they can be used as often as needed, based on your specific skin type, and they can even be used to counter the effects when other products go too far in stripping your skin.
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