Water: The Ultimate Moisturizer

Water: The Ultimate Moisturizer

A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet that baffled me a bit. Someone (I don’t remember who) was completely annoyed that the top ingredient in some product was water. My first thought was “Whoa, what’s wrong with water?!” More recently, I read about a product line whose claim to fame is “water-free”. From a formulator’s perspective, water can be a nuisance when you are trying to avoid the use of preservatives. That is a big deal in times like these where the natural, eco and organic movement is in full effect. I’m still not clear why consumers would be up in arms about the presence of water in a formula, but I’m here to tell you why you should love it.

Water is THE ultimate moisturizer. Moisture cannot exist if water is not present, so the primary function of water in a moisturizing product is to be the source of moisture. In a perfect world, water would be all we need to maintain well moisturized skin and hair, but that’s just not the way it is. Because water will always evaporate, there needs to be ingredients in a product that act as a barrier to prevent water loss. These barrier (occlusive) ingredients are waxes, vegetable oils and silicone oils. As a bonus, most barrier ingredients come with added benefits like vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, etc.

Another main function of water in a cosmetic formula is to be a solvent. Not only are raw materials concentrated, but they also need a medium to be dispersed. Water dissolves these raw materials and allows them to be used in safe concentrations. [While many raw materials can be used as is, they are equally effective in lesser concentrations.] I fear that some people think water as a top ingredient makes the product “watered down” or ineffective. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Consider the amount of laundry detergent you use in relation to the amount of water the fills the washer. The ratio of detergent to water is clearly 1 to 99 yet, you have full confidence that the minute amount of detergent you used will clean your clothes. The same concept applies to water in cosmetics.

Finally, water plays a major role in the texture of a product. Moisturizers and hair conditioners, for instance, benefit from easier application, spreadability (hmmm is that a word?) etc when water is used effectively. Water as a main ingredient can also be indicative of a lighter formula.

Contrary to popular belief, all skin types and hair types need moisture. So the next time you see water as a top ingredient, be thankful that the formulator thought about your need for moisture. Pay closer attention to the types of oils the product uses to lock that moisture in… dry skin and hair will need heavier oils and oily skin will need much lighter oils.

Are you a consumer that’s not big on water in cosmetics? How do you feel about it now?

Lip Service

Lip Service

So, lip gloss makes me happy and I’m not ashamed :-)I have about 5 glosses in my purse at the moment and I still feel like that’s not enough. Don’t worry, I’ll be adding to my arsenal soon with a couple brands I’m working on and one that my good friend Kim Riley has developed. I digress…

The real purpose of this post is to discuss the properties of the lips and why all lip products are not created equal. Like the rest of our body, our lips are covered with 3 layers of skin: stratum corneum, epidermis and dermis. The stratum corneum is the outer most layer of skin that protects the epidermis. The stratum corneum on the lips is much thinner than that on the rest of our bodies. Thus, the stratum corneum of our lips is much more delicate and requires more specialized care. Another significant difference in the skin on our lips and our bodies is that our lips do not have sebaceous glands. Since our lips don’t excrete any necessary oils or moisture, lip care products are a must. Also, the amount of melanin in our lips is considerably less than that of the rest of our skin. Sun damage is real and devastating to our beauty, our lips need and deserve a good sunscreen.

One major problem I have had with several lip products on the market is that they cause my lips to peel. I think that is extremely gross and unsightly. The reason behind this peeling phenomenon is actually pretty simple and easy to avoid. Some lip care products are heavy in occlusive ingredients. Occlusive products, also known as barriers,are characterized as products meant to lock in moisture. Knowing that our lips don’t produce moisture, what is an occlusive product actually doing? Trapping dryness and making your lips even more dry!

So what ingredients should you avoid? Primarily mineral oil and petrolatum. Other natural occlusive agents may be used in lip balm products which is what gives them their stiff/dense consistency. Ingredients like beeswax, candelilla wax and carnauba wax are not too bad when other skin softening, emollient ingredients are used. Some good ingredients to look for are jojoba oil, almond oil, coconut oil and olive oil. These oils will easily absorb in your skin and provide some much needed nutrients and moisture.

So back to my love of lip gloss… because of the typical consistency of lip gloss, it can easily avoid overusing occlusive agents and can maximize all kinds of amazing oils and extracts.

So now that I’ve given you the skinny… do the glam thing and give yourself a little lip service :-)