03 Mar

Science & Inovation



Dry skin is dull and can feel tight, uncomfortable and unpleasant. It needs addressing quickly, if we are to look and feel our best. Glycerin in water is one of the oldest and simplest remedies for dry skin. Glycerin works quickly. You can imagine this small molecule nestling into a limited number of very receptive receptor sights that soon fill up. A small amount of dilute glycerin is an excellent 'quick-fix' for dry skin but it is far from being the long-term cure. The best way to help dry skin is to combine complimentary ingredients that hold water and support skins natural barrier function. Formulators like choirmasters, know the effect of one voice can become a breath-taking harmony when combined correctly with other voices. The best formulas are therefore carefully constructed harmonies of skincare ingredients that together hydrate skin while helping skin correct its failing barrier function.



Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, many other alpha-hydroxyacids (AHAs) as well as exfoliating agents such as carica papaya fruit extract, are all excellent at encouraging dry skin to shed its dull outer layers to reveal the younger, fresher skin hiding below. Salicylic acid is a true multifunctional active. It is a recognised preservative and can help preserve a wide variety of skin care products. Salicylic acid salts are excellent moisturisers. Encapsulatated salicylic acid can be longer lasting, gentle and more effective. Natural exfoliation (desquamation) is controlled by a complex array of enzymes (including serine, cysteine and aspartate proteases), which degrade corneodesmosomes (skin's corneocytes cells connected by proteins). Several very specific enzymes are essential for controlling corneocytes shedding.


The most intelligently designed dry skin care products will also include soothing extracts such as those from aloe barbadensis to counteract the aggressive nature of exfoliants. Aloe is an especially good choice as an anti-inflammatory, as it will also help dry skin to hold on to moisture. Sodium hyaluronate is another excellent choice as although it well known as a moisturising active, it also both helps with healing and acts as an effective anti-inflammatory. Many other soothing actives are available to formulators and as the inflammatory response has been show to be the root-cause of many types of skin damage, these actives are excellent for all types of skin care products.


Skin contains its own natural moisturising factors (NMF). Sodium PCA, urea and amino acids such as arginine, are part of the skin's NMFs so it is not surprising to discover that dry skin will benefit from mixtures of amino acids (often from hydrolysed proteins e.g. wheat, soy and cotton) or extracts of quinoa (Chenopodium Quinoa), a seed famed for having the finest quality protein and nutrients. One active blend of amino acids and sugars, that is composed of water, glycerin, hydrolyzed Cottonseed Extract, trehalose, glucose, fructose, sucrose and inosit (Cotton Bloom 5S from Ashland) also adds a very attractive cushioning feel to products.


Petrolatum may not fit in with some brands' green sustainable images but it makes a very effective occlusive barrier and so will bring relief to dry skin. The formulator's skill can reduce its unpleasant feel without compromising its efficacy. The synthetic bio-adhesive, block copolymer, Invisiskin RB, (INCI: Dimethylacrylamide/Acrylic acid/Polystyrene/Ethyl Methacrylate Copolymer) from Grant Industries is especially interesting. Originally, Invisiskin helped medics hold drugs in a semi-fixed position during medical eye treatments but it is now available to hold actives in skin for cosmetic applications. Invisiskin carries up to twenty times its weight in water in a polymer hydrogel and provides lasting hydration.


Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a major water-holding polymer in skin. The levels of HA decreases as we age and so skin can benefit from molecules that stimulate HA. Hyaluronic acid is much more than a hydrating agent. It has a major role in the structure and organization of the ECM.Hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate and other hyaluronic acid salts will form natural hydrogels that moisturise, protect and sooth. The molecular size of the polymer is critical to its function. The largest HA salt molecules are anti-inflammatory and medium chain HAs stimulate skin to produce defensin peptides that then go on to kill bacteria. The lower molecular weight HAs can penetrate deeper, where healing and moisturisation is most needed. Because hyaluronic acid holds onto extremely large amounts of water in proportion to its size, it is a more cost effective moisturizer than glycerin. All grades of HA are moisturizing but when the different sizes are used together, a truly powerful ingredient harmony is produced.

Amongst the vast number of natural moisturizing polymers available to skin care specialists, there are the more specialized seaweed extracts which use extreme-force to combine seaweed with sodium hyaluronate to create a silky feeling effective complex.


Dry skin has a compromised natural skin barrier that benefits from topical Skin conditioners. Skin, deliberately subjected to strong solvents and emulsifiers, will readily loosen a complex mixture of certain lipids, which are similar to those found in lanolin. Squalene, ceramides, essential fatty acids and cholesterol are amongst the mixture of lost lipids. While skin is recovering from this type of experiment or from the rigors of everyday life, these molecules along with oils such as fine almond oil (prunus amygdalus dulcis oil) and the other natural oils will protect and condition skin. Conditioners such as extracts from the Sea Fennel (Crithmum maritimum extract), faex extract from yeast, lecithin, panthenol, jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil) and actives such as Retinyl Palmitate are very effective at helping to address the underlying causes of dry skin.


Dry skin suffers are really looking for long-term relief and not just a quick fix and so it is important, not just to add moisture to dry skin but also to repair the damage responsible for the skin being dry. Prestigious skin creams often employ peptides such as Palmitoyl peptide-4, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Palmitoyl hexapeptide-14, Tetrapeptide-14, Pentapeptide-21, Tripeptide-10, Tripeptide-1 etc. They will work individually or in concert to help firm and encourage the production of normal healthy extracellular matrix.


We live in a fiercely oxidising atmosphere, which our cells are just about equipped to withstand. The recent industrial revolution has added more and new reactive oxidising species (ROS) and our cells have not had time to evolve protective strategies. These ROS damage skin's protective barrier and so green tea (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract), ascorbic acid, vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants will help dry skin as they quench and disarm the damaging reactive oxidation species (ROS), generated from both within the tissue and from outside.


So in conclusion it is good to know that skin struggling to achieve homeostasis i.e. a normal healthy complexion, will benefit from some external help. Biotechnology, with our increasing knowledge of how our skin behaves, is providing new approaches to relieving dry skin including better ways to exfoliate. Dry skin, tight' skin can be corrected using blends of actives, which when tuned to work in harmony will give fast and long-term relief. Glycerin is the oldest and simplest dry skin remedy but now competes on price and performance with the different grades of hyaluronic acid salts. Many moisturising skin care creams, like the technically sound BeautyLab Skin Perfecting Moisture Cream, are now available to dry skin suffers.


Merinville E. Byrne A.J, Rawlings A.V., Muggleton, A.J. and Laloeuf, A.C. Three clinical studies showing the anti-aging benefits of sodium salicylate in human skin Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Volume 9, Issue 3, pages 174–184, September 2010

R. Voegeli, R., Rawlings, A.V., Doppler, s., Heiland, J., and Schreier, T. Profiling of serine protease activities in human stratum corneum and detection of a stratum corneum tryptase-like enzyme 2007 IJCS, Vol 29, 3, pages 191–200.