By Danne Montague-King
The word “hydration” or “hydrating” has been a buzz word in both the cosmetic and aesthetic field for decades. We have had hydrating creams, serums and treatments for as long as I can remember.
Before we define the actual meaning of “hydrate”, let’s look at a similar word that is actually a complete misnomer- this word is “moisturiser”.
Technically there is no such thing as a moisturiser, especially in cream form. To people who have dry skin, creams do seem to make tight, dry skin feel moist and supple for at least a few hours. What actually is taking place is a build up of dead cells or redundant corneum. Dead cells on the skin can be compared to dried out little sponges one finds under the kitchen sink. You can rub all the most expensive “moisturisers” on them all day long and nothing really happens, except perhaps a greasy dried out sponge! Soak the same sponge in water and it puffs up nice and soft, let it dry out for a while and it returns to its dry, wrinkled state again.
This is what happens to skin. Since dead cells are smaller to new living cells underneath, when the skin is cleansed and nothing is applied, the dead cells shrink and feel tight on the skin. The urge to apply a cream to break this tension (and it does) makes the user feel they are moisturised. However they are only greased or lubricated.
My first approach to this several years ago was to get rid of the dead cuticle build up and then address the newer living cells, offering them nutrients that they have recognised naturally to keep them alive for as long as they were genetically programmed to live. This also involved a “protect and maintain” program as well.
The moisturising actuallycomes from within our epidermis naturally. When we are very young, we have two secretive glands that keep us naturally moist and supple and fresh, with no creams at all! These are the sudiferous glands (sweat or water) and the sebaceous oil glands. Every few hours they rise to the surface of the skin, intermingle and create our natural acid mantle which keeps the skin soft and moist naturally.
As the years go by, dead cells build up and the skin takes on the appearance of dry skin. Tiny lines and wrinkles develop and the sudiferous and sebaceous glands shrink or become plugged and the acid mantle breaks down.
The next logical step would be to imitate nature and bring back the acid mantle. This is easily accomplished by spraying the skin with a fine water mist, herbs can be soaked and added to this to mock the sudiferous secretion as close as possible and then a high micellised or fractionated oil – loaded with tocopherols would be applied over the water immediatley, occluding it to the epidermis – voila! The acid mantle is restored and you are moisturised.
At this point a good protein delivery cream can be applied as the daily treatment delivery system. Creams that are transdermally formulated can indeed be stored in the many voids of our skin for hours and deliver the goodies that keeps the skins living cells alive.
Internal hydration: keeping the epidermis hydrated with a very good acid mantle is not enough as we get older. The very matrix of our skin, that jelly like substance that all of our cells float in like little islands is made up of GAGS (glycoaminoglycans), chondroitan sulphates and essential fatty acids. This is what gives the skin it’s youthful bounce and turgidity.
As we age, this matrix gets thinner and the skin becomes crepe like in areas. The word “essential” means something that has to come from an outside source, not made by the body, and in this case Essential Fatty Acids must be stepped up on a daily basis to help bring this bounce and thickness back.
Evening primrose oil with it’s wonderful female hormone leveling prostaglandins, is my main choice of EFA but ther are several other EFA’s obtained from fish and other oils.
To me hydration is inside out not the action of any one type of product. Hydrating is topical, lower epidermal and internal such as drinking enough water every day. You would be surprised how many people do not!