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What Am I Doing to My Skin?

August 26, 2011
Anatomy of the human skin with English languag...

Image via Wikipedia

Ever wonder what your lotion, body oil or cream is actually doing when you slather it on? I thought it would be a good idea to clear a few misconceptions about skin care and what it actually means to moisturize. A good idea I think, since I’m praying for autumn crispness to begin soon- 

I’ll make this as clear as possible. 

The root word of moisturize is ‘moist’ which means of or having contact with some type of waterbased material or just plain old water. Our bodies are made up of around 60% water on average. Factors that may affect this percentage are sex, age, and percent body fat. Therefore, it is extremely important that we get adequate amounts of water or moisture for the inside and outside of our bodies.  

A coating is a material that acts as a barrier to protect a particular surface from the elements, to reduce friction or to give a surface ‘slip’. Typically, the most effective coatings are oil-based, such as paint, motor oil, or more relevant to our discussion body and hair oils. Our skin and hair must be protected from the effects of wind, rain, and sun; this is best done by oil. Consider this – our hair (straight, wavy, or kinky) is in a constant state of friction against itself. It is extremely important for our hair and skin to contain a product to reduce environmental impact, thereby reducing dryness, split ends, and breakage, basic wear and tear. 

There is a huge misconception that oils moisturize our skin and hair*, when in actuality, the best way to give any part of our bodies moisture is with a waterbased material. Water is the absolute best moisturizer; moisture being the measure of water in or on a surface like our hair and skin. Moreover, the absolute best way to PROTECT our hair and skin is with an oil-based material. So how do we get the best of both worlds? We bring the 2 components together.

Have you ever made a salad dressing with oil and vinegar? What happens? When you put the 2 together they almost immediately fall apart – like we do in some of our relationshipsJ Vinegar is waterbased, and oil and water do not mix. So, in order to bring oil and water together and keep them together an emulsifier must be brought into the equation. An emulsifier is simply a material that couples oil and water such that they are bound together – think lotion for the skin and conditioner for our hair. These materials are waterbased with oils that are bound together with an emulsifier so that we can get the best of both worlds. 

Stay tuned for discussion on viscosity and how it relates to the different oils that we may use on our skin and hair. 

*There are a couple of oils that will penetrate the skin’s surface to moisturize the epidermis. We’ll chat about that later J

 ~Live Healthy. Look Healthy.

 PS – Our In to Out Series has started, make sure to read the wonderful interviews featuring industry experts.

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