MORE ON SKIN’S MOIS­TURE BAR­RIER!

CLEO (Malaysia) - - MEET YOUR MATCH -

To learn the de­tails about this im­por­tant layer and what else we can do for a bet­ter com­plex­ion, CLEO en­lists the help of Dr. Koh Chuan Keng, con­sul­tant der­ma­tol­o­gist and past pres­i­dent of the Der­ma­to­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Malaysia.

Q: What is the mois­ture bar­rier and what pur­pose does it serve?

“This is the up­per layer of our skin, which is called the epi­der­mis. It is made up of cells called ker­atinocytes and hold­ing th­ese cells to­gether while keep­ing them firm is the skin’s Nat­u­ral Moisturizing Fac­tor (NMF) that con­tains ce­ramides, free fatty acids and choles­terol. Th­ese help to keep wa­ter in and pre­vent mi­crobes and al­ler­gens from en­ter­ing the skin. A healthy mois­ture bar­rier helps pro­tect our tis­sues from ex­ter­nal in­sults – such as bac­te­ria, al­ler­gens and dust – from en­ter­ing. It also pre­vents wa­ter loss, keep­ing the skin sup­ple and healthy.”

Q: What causes it to break down?

“First, us­ing soap – es­pe­cially those that are not de­ter­gent free – will re­move the free fatty acids, ce­ramides and choles­terol in the skin, re­sult­ing in cracks that lead to wa­ter loss and dry­ness. Mi­crobes and al­ler­gens at­tack from the out­side, caus­ing itchy, red, and in­flamed skin. Then there are cer­tain con­di­tions like atopic eczema and ichthyosis that re­sult in the loss of pro­tein molecules like fi­lag­grin and ce­ramides, which are nec­es­sary to hold the skin cells to­gether.”

Q: Has a change in our en­vi­ron­ment and life­style con­trib­uted to a weak mois­ture bar­rier?

“We live in a more in­dus­tri­alised world with more pol­lu­tion. We are ex­posed to more en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tants, which dam­ages our skin. Our mod­ern life­style, fast-food diet, traf­fic jams in­crease stress lev­els, wors­en­ing our skin’s abil­ity to fight in­fec­tions. Air conditioning also causes de­hy­dra­tion.”

Q: How can a moisturiser pro­tect the mois­ture bar­rier?

“It helps re­place ce­ramides that are re­duced in dry and sen­si­tive skin. Molecules in the moisturiser re­tain wa­ter and help keep skin sup­ple.”

Q: What is im­por­tant when choos­ing a moisturiser?

“It should be hy­poal­ler­genic, suit­able for sen­si­tive skin, non-come­do­genic, and con­tains no fra­grance so that it does not ag­gra­vate eczema.”

mois­turise the skin but help to re­pair the bro­ken skin bar­rier.”

So what do you look for when choos­ing the right moisturiser? Hav­ing mois­tur­is­ing in­gre­di­ents won’t hurt, for starters. With sk­in­care tech­nol­ogy evolv­ing, new in­gre­di­ents are con­stantly be­ing in­tro­duced and for­mu­lated into your sk­in­care prod­ucts to help you cre­ate great skin. For ex­am­ple, hyaluronic acid – which is of­ten la­belled the best anti-age­ing sk­in­care in­gre­di­ent and is found nat­u­rally in the hu­man body – binds to wa­ter for im­proved hydration. In a moisturiser, this in­gre­di­ent deeply pen­e­trates into the skin to do what it does best – re­tain mois­ture, pre­vent dry­ness, and keep the skin sup­ple. This way, with a boost in hyaluronic acid, the skin’s mois­ture bar­rier be­comes stronger and more sup­ple. That’s why hyaluronic acid is a pop­u­lar in­gre­di­ent to use in many mois­turis­ers!

An­other in­gre­di­ent to look out for? Glyc­erin, a well-known humec­tant that at­tracts mois­ture to skin. What makes glyc­erin unique is that it ab­sorbs wa­ter from the sur­round­ing air, just like a sponge. Th­ese in­gre­di­ents as well as other mois­tur­is­ing ones will help in­crease skin’s mois­ture level, mak­ing sure that the mois­ture bar­rier is in­tact, your nat­u­ral mois­ture won’t evap­o­rate, and skin re­mains healthy.

Wait... There’s More

That’s all to great skin – mois­turise? Well, not quite. Hav­ing a good sk­in­care rou­tine helps. And by this we mean the basics. Af­ter all, the start for all great skin is skin that is clean. Says Dr. Oren­tre­ich, “Clean­li­ness is im­per­a­tive to not only the short-run but the long-run at­trac­tions of ev­ery face. So are other main­te­nance mea­sures ac­cord­ing to what the skin and the life it leads to dic­tate. If one could see the faces of a good skin care­taker and a poor skin care­taker on an ac­cel­er­ated-ac­tion mo­tion pic­ture cam­era over a pe­riod of time, the stun­ning im­pact of the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of daily care would make the ur­gency of skin-keep­ing abun­dantly clear.”

His so­lu­tion? The 3-Step Skin Care Sys­tem he for­mu­lated for Clin­ique 40 years ago that still works to­day. For great skin, the good doc­tor says to cleanse, tone, and yes, mois­turise. “The con­cept of not us­ing soap and wa­ter is wrong in my opin­ion,” says Dr. Oren­tre­ich. “But soap and wa­ter can’t clean ev­ery­thing.” Which is why you should also use a clar­i­fy­ing lo­tion to ex­fo­li­ate dead skin cells from the sur­face. And we don’t have to tell you again why a moisturiser is es­sen­tial.

So what if you don’t have greatskin genes to be­gin with? Af­ter all, great skin can be cre­ated!

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