A Cosmetic Chemist Explains Why Applying Water to Skin Doesn’t Hydrate It

A considerably counterintuitive-sounding fact: If the key to wholesome and hydrated skin was as simple as making use of some water to it…nicely, these Sephora shelves could be reasonably stark. As beauty chemist Marta Pazos succinctly explains, water received’t penetrate the pores and skin’s barrier—in some scientific converse, pores and skin is predominately hydrophobic, which implies it’s not that simple to get by it—and the important thing to getting extra moisture is discovering a skin-care system with components that may “match the chemistry of the skin,” all whereas carrying some water alongside within the course of.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA)

While she is fast to reward it, Dr. Marta admits hyaluronic acid is something however lesser recognized, but calls out the significance of understanding all its kinds. “HA is a naturally occurring substance in the connective tissue. Chemically, it is made of a repeat unit not too different from glucose, and it is part of the cartilage, helping collagen keep in its desired state of hydration (which preserves it from degradation). The best formulations that incorporate HA should have a blend of different ‘sizes’ (or molecular weights) of this molecule to ensure penetration through the skin as well as a time-released ability for those larger ones that diffuse through the skin slower.”

A Synthetic Peptide

Besides HA in a number of sizes, Dr. Marta can also be an enormous fan of SYN-HYCAN, an artificial tripeptide that may increase manufacturing of the physique’s personal HA. (Pro tip: Our our bodies have a tendency to like greatest what they produce, as opposed to what we put into them.) “When properly formulated, this ingredient can penetrate deep into the layers of the skin, and it is believed to not only boost hydration, but also collagen production,” she says.


You’ve possible seen this ingredient on the label and wondered-what-the-heck it was, however Dr. Marta is fast to classify it as one other “wonder” ingredient. “It loves water, is a small molecule and fairly compatible with skin—which translates into the ability to drag hydration deep into the layers of the skin, a place where it is not only very necessary to get to, but hard to get into.”


They might have a popularity for being drying, however Dr. Marta likes clays for a fast hydration increase. “They are also amazing to boost hydration. They come ‘premoistened’ in a formula (dissolved in water) and can redistribute hydration to ensure that is located where most needed.”

Cellulose Derivatives

These are the complicated-sounding names that may create an ideal hydration layer on the pores and skin, defending it and leaving a pleasant, silky really feel behind. Dr. Marta additionally says they’re “great in water-based serums for very oily skin type that can be prone to clogging when using regular moisturizers.”

Vitamin B3 (niacinamide)

No matter what you name it, the tremendous vitamin can penetrate pores and skin and drag water, whereas additionally actin as collagen manufacturing stimulant (i.e., it will increase elasticity). Best when formulated with HA for hydration functions, it additionally helps with decreasing irritation, decreasing hyperpigmentation and it’s an antioxidant.

Sucrose and sodium chloride

These “so understated and so underrated ingredients” are nice at “fixing” water and serving to pores and skin to keep away from hydration loss. As Dr. Marta says, they’re so available, cheap and extremely simple to incorporate into formulations. “In that same note, honey must also be considered, which also has amazing antiseptic properties.”

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