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The Role of Moisturizers (Dry Skin)
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The Role of Moisturizers

Mariusz J.A. Sapijaszko, MD FRCPC (Dermatology)

Moisturizers are one of the most common over the counter products that pertain to skincare. People are beginning to realize its great importance in total skin care. What was originally a product that offered temporary moisturizing effects on the skin, are now much more sophisticated and effective, some offering more long-term benefits. For more information about moisturizers, visit

These are the general benefits of moisturizers:

  • Increases the water content in the dermis and the epidermis.
  • Reduces trans-dermal (through the skin) water loss.
  • Assists the skin in providing protection against bacteria, virus, fungi, and other toxins and pollutants.
  • Delivers nutrients and other beneficial regulatory substances to the skin.
  • Helps rebalance the skin’s fat composition.

Most moisturizers contain one of the following substances with specific benefits:

  • Emollients
  • Humectants
  • Occlusive agents

While these three agents are the key substances in a moisturizer, other additives may be added for extra benefits that are above the general scope and function of moisturizers.

Emollients seal small splits between the skin layers, giving the skin a smoother look. Humectants are substances that attract water, and have the benefit of absorbing water from the skin surface, and keeping water content in the dermis and epidermis intact. The role of occlusive agents is to block trans-epidermal water loss. They help retain water content in the skin, but these occlusive properties can have a negative effect on those who have acne.

Moisturizers have become more sophisticated, and we are at the hub of a new age where scientifically formulated moisturizers can offer additional benefits beyond simply moisturizing the skin. New areas of research include the study of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and peptides, and their benefits to the skin, and how they can best be absorbed in the skin in quantities that will make a difference. New moisturizers can offer the double benefits of topical creams which have therapeutic benefits, and moisturizers which rehydrate and keep the skin healthy.

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