...Hand Cream

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Science -

There are two ways that hand creams act to mois­turise your skin. Oc­clu­sive agents form a bar­rier that traps wa­ter, while humec­tants at­tract more wa­ter to your skin. The prob­lem is that the humec­tants are wa­ter sol­u­ble, while the oc­clu­sive agents dis­solve in oil. So to get them to mix in an easy-to-use for­mu­la­tion, the creams also need an emul­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem. ML

WA­TER

80 per cent

Gives the cream vol­ume and dis­solves some in­gre­di­ents.

GLYC­ER­INE

3 per cent

Is a typ­i­cal humec­tant used to draw wa­ter in from the at­mos­phere.

THICKENERS

5 per cent

PEG or poly­acrylic acid (which may ap­pear as car­bomer on the la­bel) are long poly­mer mol­e­cules that in­crease the vis­cos­ity of the cream, mak­ing it eas­ier to ap­ply.

FATS AND OILS

7 per cent

Co­conut oil, petroleum jelly or lano­lin (a waxy sub­stance se­creted by woolly an­i­mals such as sheep) might be used as oc­clu­sive agents that form a bar­rier to block es­cap­ing wa­ter.

EMUSIFIER

2.5 per cent

Glyc­eryl stearate and stearic acid help to sta­bilise the oil/wa­ter mix­ture.

PRESER­VA­TIVES AND FRA­GRANCE

2.5 per cent

These im­prove the prod­uct’s shelf life and make it smell nice.

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