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How Well do You Understand "Hydration"?

Written by Danné Montegue-King on April 22nd, 2015.      0 comments

The word “hydration” or “hydrating” has been a buzz word in both the cosmetic and aesthetic field for decades. We have had hydrating crèmes, serums and treatments for as long as I can remember. We know that HYDRA or HYDRO refers to water – but in our field, it has taken on so many connotations as to be compared to the mythical Greek monster Hydra—the beast with many heads!

Before we define the actual meaning of hydrate, let’s look at a similar word that is actually a complete misnomer—the word “moisturiser”.

Technically there is no such thing as a moisturiser especially in crème form. It was actually a term invented in the early 1960’s by a New York advertising firm to sell beauty crèmes. In those days it was felt that humectants put into crèmes, such as ordinary glycerin’s, somehow “moisturised” the epidermis when rubbed in.
Water on face
To normal people who thought they had dry skin these crèmes actually did seem to make tight, dry skin feel moist and supple at least for a few hours. What actually was taking place was just a build-up of dead cells or redundant corneum. Dead cells on the skin can be compared to dried out little sponges one finds under a kitchen sink.

You can rub all the most expensive moisturiser on them all day long and nothing really happens, except perhaps a greasy dried out sponge! Soak the same sponge in a bucket of water and it puffs up nice and soft, let it dry out for awhile and it returns to its dry, wrinkled state again.
This is what happens to skin. Since dead cells are smaller than the living new cells underneath, when the skin is cleansed and nothing is applied, the dead cells shrink and feel tight on the skin—the urge to apply a cream to break this tension (and it does) makes the user feel they are moisturised. However, they are only greased or lubricated.

Old time humectants (many are still around) have a habit of drawing any available water to themselves—not deep into the upper epidermis—so the end result is often Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) and it is a vicious circle making one dependant on a moisturiser.

My first approach to this several decades ago was to get rid of the cuticle build up and then address the newer living cells—offering them nutrients that they recognised naturally to keep them alive for as long as they were genetically programmed to live.
This also involved a “protect and maintain” program as well.
The moisturizing actually comes from within our epidermis naturally. When we are very young, we have two secretive glands that keep us naturally moist and supple and fresh—with no crèmes at all!

These are the sudoriferous glands (sweat or water) and the sebaceous oil glands - a slightly acid and fractionated oil—similar in molecular size to the water molecules. Every few hours they rise to the surface of the skin, inter-mingle and create our natural acid mantle which keeps the skin soft and moist naturally.

As the years go by, dead cells build up and the skin takes on the appearance of dry skin. Tiny lines and wrinkles develop and the sudoriferous/sebaceous glands shrink or become plugged and the acid mantle breaks down. Often this is misdiagnosed as dry skin, T-Zone skin, combination skin etc. All of these are not actually diagnostic categories. In fact there only a few actual dry skin conditions, itchiosis being the main anomaly, it is merely dead skin and needs to be exfoliated.

The next logical step would be to imitate nature—bring back the acid mantle. This is easily accomplished by spraying the skin liberally with a fine water mist, herbs can be cold soaked and added to this to mock the sudoriferous secretion as close as possible and then a high micellised or fractionated oil—loaded with tocopherols would be applied over the water immediately, occluding it into the epidermis— voila! The acid mantle is restored and you are moisturised.

At this point a good, protein delivery crème can be applied as the daily treatment delivery system. Crèmes that are transdermally formulated can indeed  be stored in the many voids in our skin for hours and deliver the  goodies that keeps the living skin cells alive. This can include sun blocks and anti oxidants.
Skins that are flaming red and rough with a rosacea appearance are particularly suffering from TEWL and need to be spritzed several times a day.  What puts out fire?  Water.

Internal hydration:

Keeping the epidermis hydrated with a good acid mantle is not enough as we get older. The very matrix  of our skin, that jelly-like substance that all of our cells float in like little islands connected by bridges (desmesomes) is made up of GAGS (glycoaminoglycans) chondroitin sulphates and essential fatty acids bind it all together. This is what gives skin its youthful bounce and turgidity.
As we age, this matrix gets thinner and the skin becomes crêpe-like in areas.  The word “essential” means something that has to come from an outside source, not made by the body, and in this case, essential fatty acids (EFA) must be stepped up on a daily basis orally—to help bring this bounce and thickness back!

Evening Primrose oil with its wonderful female hormone levelling prostaglandins is my main choice of EFA (depending upon how it is extracted) but there are several EFA’s obtained from fatty fish and other oils.

To me, hydration means inside out—not the action of any one type of product; it can even include a professional, hydrophilic massage. It is an action and not a name that should identify a product.

If I were forced to describe what the human body actually is, at the most common denominator, I would say: we are a bag of fluids, a few chemicals orchestrated by enzymes and held together by an electromagnetic field.

oil tabs
This does not make us terribly substantial, all things considered; we are fluid creatures by nature. Hydrating is topical, lower epidermal and internal, such as drinking enough water every day. You would be surprised how many people do not!

Article supplied by DMK

DMK matches formulations with the body’s chemistry, the skin is encouraged to respond in a positive manner. DMK’s revolutionary concept of REMOVE, REBUILD, PROTECT, MAINTAIN aims to match an individual’s biochemistry with the appropriate skin therapy. Botanical-based paramedical products make up the DMK skin care program.

SONIA CLARK, DMK Account Manager

Phone: +64 22 0931272
Freephone: 0800 000 845




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