Redefining moisturiser – Soft Matter article in Chemistry World

The secret to soft skin is not necessarily increasing its water content but retaining molecular fluidity © Shutterstock

Scientists in Sweden have probed the outermost layer of skin to gain molecular insights into how naturally occurring molecules in this layer protect it from drying out.

Healthy skin with a normal degree of hydration is soft and pliable. This is not the case for dry skin, which is brittle and easily cracks. To treat dry skin it is common to apply a cosmetic containing a humectant  ̶  a type of “moisturiser” – like glycerol or urea. These substances are also components of natural moisturising factor (NMF), a group of molecules naturally present in the skin barrier. The beneficial function of these compounds if often claimed to be their capacity for increasing skin hydration, although the underlying mechanisms are generally described with a rather weak molecular basis.

Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Jennifer Newton in Chemistry World here…

Read the paper by Sebastian Björklund et. al for free until 23 May 2014:

Stratum corneum molecular mobility in the presence of natural moisturizers
Sebastian Björklund, Jenny Marie Andersson, Agnieszka Ewa Nowacka, Quoc Dat Pham, Daniel Topgaard and Emma Sparr
Soft Matter, 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C4SM00137K, Paper

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