We all want that glowing, healthy-looking skin, and one of the easiest ways to achieve that goal is to make sure your skin is well-hydrated. With so many products available in the market, it can be a little overwhelming to know which one is right for you.
The importance of hydration for the skin
Just like your body, your skin needs just as much hydration to perform and look its best. There are also a few benefits that come with having a well-hydrated skin. Your face will appear plump and supple, improving the appearance of dry, dull skin. You can also maintain your skin’s elasticity and lessen the visible ageing signs of fine lines and wrinkles.
Plus, dehydrated skin will send signals to the glands to produce more oil as a way to compensate for the lack of moisture. This can cause problems especially for oily skin, where excess sebum is produced and leads to the unwanted greasy look. Pores can become easily clogged and cause acne to develop. When properly hydrated, your skin also takes on a more radiant-looking glow.
Start looking at the ingredients
Firstly, you need to know that there is a difference between hydrating and moisturising ingredients. The former adds and boosts the hydration levels in the skin while moisturising ingredients help to lock in that hydration in the skin by preventing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), whereby water evaporates from the skin.
Most moisturisers typically contain a combination of hydrating and moisturising ingredients. But there are some products, such as serums that often contain hydrating ingredients and require other products to seal the moisture content in your skin.
Glycerin is one of the most common hydrating ingredients you will find on skincare labels. Derived from plant sources, this colourless liquid is a humectant which means it has the ability to attract water to itself. When applied to the skin, glycerin can help your skin draw water to the skin from the deeper skin layers or the air in the humid environment and improve the texture of the skin. Glycerin can also be present in cleansers to help maintain hydration and prevent skin irritation during the cleansing process.
Squalane is a slightly different version of squalene, a naturally-occurring compound found in our skin – or more specifically, our sebaceous glands. Our body produces it to lubricate and protect the skin but over time, production gradually slows down as we age. Derived from squalene via hydrogenation, squalane is preferred in skincare as it is more stable, has a longer shelf life, and does not go through oxidization. It has great emollient properties to increase the vibrancy of the skin, lessen the appearance of fine lines and repair the skin barrier. It is also easily absorbed by the skin and prevents water loss overall.
3. Lactic Acid
As a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), it helps to remove dead skin cell build-up and melt down the naturally-occurring oils that connect dead skin cells to each other. This will reveal newer layers of stratum corneum that appear brighter and healthier. Lactic acid has a slightly larger molecule, so it is less likely to irritate the skin making it a suitable chemical exfoliator for sensitive skin types.
However, lactic acid is also a humectant and has the ability to pull moisture into the skin. This will improve the skin’s natural moisture factor and keep it from feeling less dry. Your complexion will appear firmer and plumper with the added hydration.
Ceramides make up over 50% of the skin’s composition and these lipids (fats) are found naturally in the stratum corneum. As they exist between your skin cells, they help to strengthen the protective layer to limit moisture loss and protect against environmental stressors. Sun damage and ageing can gradually wear off and deplete the effectiveness of your skin’s natural ceramides, thus weakening your skin’s barrier.
This results in irritation, redness, drier and rougher skin texture. Individuals with skin that is perpetually dry, such as eczema, are likely to face an issue with their skin barrier’s functionality. In a 2018 study, The Efficacy of a Ceramide-based Cream in Mild-to-moderate Atopic Dermatitis, it was found that a ceramide cream resulted in 67% improvement for sensitive skin conditions, particularly in trans-epidermal water loss and skin smoothness.
5. Hyaluronic Acid
Another compound that’s found naturally in our skin, Hyaluronic Acid (HA) has the ability to hold water and keep the skin hydrated and plump. It can hold a thousand times its weight in water – which means it can retain moisture in our skin and prevent all the moisture from evaporating into the air.
And just like elastin and collagen, the amount of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases as we age. So, you can find this humectant often in water-based moisturisers and serums to continuously keep the skin moisturised throughout the day. All skin types can benefit from this ingredient for hydration – it also revitalizes the skin’s outer surface layers to improve the appearance of fine lines and make the skin appear youthful.
Deliver a shot of hydration straight to your skin
Besides enhancing your skincare routine with the right products, there are aesthetic treatments you can do to boost the hydration levels in your skin.
Skin boosters are Hyaluronic Acid injections that deliver doses of HA fillers into your skin to improve firmness, hydration and luminosity. Brands like Restylane Vital and Juvederm Volite are common injectables that add volume to the skin’s dermal layer and draws in water to the area to create a filling effect. This means plumping sunken areas, smoothening fine lines and improving skin elasticity.
Before the procedure, numbing cream is applied to the treated area to minimize discomfort. Manual injections are typically recommended over injector devices as there is better precision and control of the depth to bring better outcome. As tiny deposits of skin boosters are delivered, they act like water reservoirs to retain moisture for long-term hydration. The benefits of Hyaluronic Acid also extend to reducing inflammation, speeding up healing of wounds and assisting in acne scar removal for a brighter, supple skin. Depending on the number of sessions, results can typically last between 9 to 12 months.