What the heck is an occlusive?
And exactly why should we be slathering them on our face?
Well, if you’re a dry skin sufferer, they may become your new best friend.
And if you are worried, you’ve missed the occlusive train.
Our interpretation of the best skincare occlusions have you covered..excuse the pun!
How Occlusives Work on Your Skin
Occlusion of your skin means 100% coverage of its surface.
Think about how a band-aid works or if you’ve ever slathered your skin in hydrocortisone – all wrinkled, uber soft and hydrated – it works to seal your wound and protect it from infection.
As a pharmaceutical, that’s precisely what a “true occlusive” does; just like clingfilm, there we said it – can we get a drum roll, please?
In the world of cosmetics, occlusives are a little less drastic; they layer a thin film over your skin, creating a barrier against the outside world.
In layperson’s terms, they lock in moisture and help prevent trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), slowing water evaporation from your skin.
Occlusive ingredients are also an excellent addition to your body products; because there are fewer oil glands on your legs than on your face.
Yes, you guessed it, this is the culprit for those dry winter legs, which is why slathering body butter on them is like pure salvation; everyone say, ahhh.
The Healing Power of Occlusives
Occlusion therapy is used to treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema; in dermatology, it is a proven way to treat the following skin conditions:
- dry skin
- bed sores
- premature ageing
- impaired barrier function
Occlusives Used in Skincare
Think of all things emolliency, like oils, butters, and proteins that trap moisture close to your skin and do the double duty of making your skin feel soft.
Other ingredients that occlude your skin are referred to in the industry as barrier-repairing ingredients; these include ceramides and cholesterol, which set up a protective barrier between your skin and the outside world.
Waxes are great occlusive ingredients; this is how lip balms work – they trap moisture on your lips.
If you’re looking for an occlusive product, look no further than ceramide barrier repair balm, filled with skin-loving occlusive oils, butters, ceramides, lipids, and waxes.
- wax, including beeswax, is a wonderful occlusive ingredient, especially for dry, chapped hands and lips
- lecithin are phospholipids that are essential occlusives that naturally absorb, helping to repair an impaired barrier
- gorgeous butters like cocoa, mango, and shea stick around on your skin, helping to protect it from the outside world
- the sebaceous glands responsible for producing sebum create a cocktail of wax esters and triglycerides on your skin to create a protective coating; squalane and jojoba help to form an occlusive barrier
- ceramides are skin-identical ingredients that are naturally found in your skin; we combine them in fortify barrier repair cream to replenish ingredients that deplete over time through trauma or age
Our clean and conscious beauty standpoint means many of the ingredients mentioned below are not included in our formulas.
- hydrocarbons: Petroleum jelly, paraffin, mineral oil
- fatty acids: Lanolin acid
- fatty alcohols: Lanolin and stearyl alcohol
- polyhydric alcohols: Propylene glycol
In this study, (1) participants’ trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) measurements were watched before and after 15 min, 2 hr and 6 hr of different emollients being applied.
The results showed they effectively provided an occlusive barrier on the participant’s skin.
Controversial ingredients like mineral oils, lanolin, and paraffin are common occlusives; they cover your skin and won’t let it breathe,
If you research these ingredients on the internet, the gods of Google return claims from models on how they profess they are the only ingredients they use on their skin. Case in point Tyra Banks.
The mind boggles, especially if we refer back to the ‘band-aid’ analogy and how the long-term use of such occlusives can make your skin wrinkly.
In saying that, Vaseline does deserve a special mention, even if you want to burn me at the stake and label me a heretic.
When your skin is highly inflamed, and the protective barrier is damaged beyond repair,Vaselinee will TEMPORARILY come to the rescue.
Why? Because it is water-repellent and non-water soluble, it seals in much-needed moisture and forms a hydrophobic film between your skin cells.
Now we’re not suggesting that you rush out and buy a vat ofVaselinee and use nothing else on your skin for the rest of your life unless you are Tyra Banks!
But as a one-off temporary fix, if your barrier has been badly compromised and your skin is burning and stinging,Vaselinee is an excellent temporary measure for immediate relief.
It is like putting a plastic sheet over your skin, preventing evaporation from the surface.
Please don’t confuse VASELINE with PETROLEUM JELLY, which has different grades of purity, so you will never know how toxic your petroleum jelly products are.
On the other hand,Vaselinee is very refined, triple purified, and is regarded as a noncarcinogenic product.
Like the sound of what this product does, but looking for a natural alternative? Then a healing container of skin-slathering Nectar treatment balm will do the trick.
- mineral Oil
This study (2) demonstrates that artificial occlusive barriers help regulate the healing rate of wounds.
- cetyl Alcohol
- stearyl Alcohol
- stearic Acid
- lanolin Acid
- cetyl alcohol
- stearyl Stearate
To Conclude. The naked truth
The only real downside to using occlusives is that they can be greasy, causing inflamed breakouts and, in some cases, acne breakouts.
For this reason, we avoid using occlusives in our formulas for combination or oily skin types, especially those prone to spots, pimples, or breakouts.
Now we appreciate that if you throw in changes of seasons and premature ageing, these basic skincare steps suddenly become pretty complex, so striking the right balance for your skin is the key to elevating your skincare strategy.
Those with combination or oily skin require a gel-based humectant formula, like Quench.
For dry skin, layering humectants, emollients, and occlusive is the key to a healthy skin routine.
If you’re keen to learn more about what essential ingredients should be in a skin cream for dry skin, this article is worth a read.
A comparative histological study on the skin occlusion performance of a cream made of solid lipid nanoparticles and Vaseline.
EffectsVaselineolatum on stratum corneum structure and function.