Is your skin dehydrated, dry, and flaky?
Or maybe it’s prone to inflammation?
Then emollients could be your new best friend.
Often referred to as protectors, they form an invisible film on your skin.
They shield it from environmental damage,
And because the molecules are large, they don’t penetrate easily.
This is why they make your skin feel lovely and soft.
What Are Emollients?
When looking for moisturisers, we assume they will hydrate and moisturise our skin.
Sadly it’s not so straightforward—they contain several different ingredients, which work metabolically in slightly different ways when treating dryness.
And in this area of personal care products, emollients are one of the key players, helping to moisture and soften your skin,
As a clinical esthetician, I am here to help you understand everything you need to know about introducing emollients into your skincare routine.
First, let’s look at the different types of emollients for your skin.
Types of Emollients
Butters, oils, lipids, and esters are all classed as emollients.
These can be either natural options such as cocoa, mango butter, coconut oil, jojoba, squalane, and lecithin.
Natural silicone alternatives such as ‘coco-caprylate’ are readily biodegradable light emollients that provide great slip and feel like silk on your skin.
They also act as conditioners, film-formers, moisturisers, and thickeners.
Then there are synthetic silicones which we discuss below.
Benefits of Emollients
- heals dry skin
- soothe burns
- replenishes skins barrier
- re-texturise rough skin
- reduces sensitivity
- prevents flaky skin
- lessens scar tissue
- keeps skin moisturised
Emollients help reduce skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema; this study (1) showed how a ceramide-rich emollient helped relieve atopic dermatitis in patients.
Barrier Repairing Emollients
When your skin is dry, sensitive and flaky, there are gaps between your skin cells, allowing moisture to escape quickly and irritants to get in.
Here at the Naked chemist, we often talk about your barrier function because. It’s super important; it keeps your skin lovely and healthy.
Emollients help to fill the gaps between those spaces and smooth out your skin, as this study shows (2), repairing an impaired barrier.
Many synthetic emollients are available.
However, as a natural and organic skincare company, we prefer not to use them in our formulas because they are biologically inert.
Still, they’re worth a mention, as they are found in many moisturising formulas.
These include Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, and Cyclopentasiloxane; they are the most commonly used for forming a nice texture on your skin.
They are also used for delivering performance cosmetic ingredients effectively into your skin.
These are relatively new synthetic silicones that work as spreading agents.
They impart a silky feel to your skin, helping with slip and glide.
They are called breathable barriers because they leave a protective film on your skin’s surface.
Because they have such a nice texture, they have replaced many more traditional emollients that are considered too thick.
We avoid this ingredient in our formulas, whether purified or not.
Why? Because the question has to be asked, do we want our clients smearing their skin with something that has come into contact with sheep dip?
Especially when you consider several natural substitutes available.
Emulsifiers to avoid are the ones that have a mineral oil base.
Polyethene glycol ether is usually combined with paraffin; this could include trideceth -3, -6, 10, and tricetheareth, which are petrochemical-based.
Mineral oil works by trapping water in the top layers of your skin, creating a protective barrier, thus helping keep skin plump and moist and invading bacteria out.
To conclude. The naked truth
if you’re a dry skin sufferer, you need to get on the emollient train.
They are also highly beneficial for sensitivity, rough skin and conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and keratosis pilaris.
The only two caveats are:
- You must ensure they’re natural.
- If your skin is oily or acne, prone they can block your sweat glands, creating blackheads, whiteheads, and more breakouts, so avoid anything too heavy on your skin.
- Role of topical emollients and moisturisers.
- The Role of Moisturisers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis,