It is not news that hydration is the basis of healthy, youthful skin. But exactly how much it can impact skin (and beyond!) is just starting to be unfolded.
In a new Japanese study, researchers found that regular use of a glycerin-based moisturiser in newborn babys in the first few weeks of life could help prevent eczema and even food allergies later in life, providing a simple way to combat a growing global problem.
It is well-recognised that skin dryness could cause eczema. Micro-cracks in the skin easily admit irritants that will spur the young immune system into serious combat and result in an over-production of antibodies. And it is this hyper-production of antibodies that produces the symptoms of an allergy. Another important point in this study is that atopic eczema could also be linked to other allergic reactions such as food allergies, asthma and hay fever which manifest at an older age. Moisturising early prevents the delicate baby skin from drying out and reduces the risk of skin eczema by 30 percent. Researchers are now looking into factors that might explain why the rest of the babies still go on to develop eczema, such as maternal intake of atopy-inducing substances that could be transmitted to the foetus in the womb.
Fast-forward a few decades, effective skin hydration is now seen as a key to dermal time-travel for those looking to turn back the hands of the clock. A recent study found age-related dehydration a common problem in women all around the world: 73 percent of women in the United States, 81 percent in Japan and 94 percent in Korea. And it can affect anyone, regardless of your skin type (yes, even those with oily skin!), and can strike relatively early for some, even in your 20s.
As we age, the concentration of moisture-binding molecules within the skin is reduced progressively, allowing increased loss of life-bestowing aqua to the environment. To compensate for the loss of essential moisture, water is drawn up from the deeper layers to the surface, creating an imbalance in the water equilibrium within our skin. This leads to dull, rough and listless-looking skin with more visible fine lines which will make you appear older than your chronological age.
Keeping skin well-hydrated will not only light your face up instantly with a fresh-from-shower glow or plump up the skin for extra spring and smoothness now, it can also affect how it looks in the future. Maintaining good skin barrier function with proper hydration will fend us from daily environmental insults by reducing the penetration of skin-ageing molecules that can set off free radical damage to our cells and collagen. And that translates into a healthy, beautiful complexion for many more years to come.
The latest clinical anti-ageing treatment is evolving to reflect this trend as well. Where traditional filler was used purely to correct individual folds and lines, doctors are moving towards enhancing the deep hydrobalance and overall skin health of the entire face with hyaluronic acid based injectable skin boosters. By replenishing the lost dermal stores of our skin’s own internal moisturiser progressively over 3 treatments, hyaluronic acid skin boosters provide a global rejuvenation that results in a complexion that appears radiant, toned, supple, smooth and yes, naturally youthful (i.e. the you’ve-lived-a-good-life skin), versus skin that’s obviously filled (a.k.a the overstuffed Barbie who refuses to age).
While in-office treatments might yield more impressive results, not everyone is ready for microinjections or lasers. But everyone can definitely hit the bottle to slow down the sands of time.
When it comes to hydration, not all ingredients are created equal. Keep watch for these moisturising stars to ‘plump’ youth and vitality back into your skin:
Everyone should look for powerful humectants that attract and hold water in the skin such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Most of these hydrators are lightweight and agree with all skin types. Lactic acid and urea which are components of the skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF) also act as moisture magnets, while gently exfoliating away rough, flaky surface dead cells.
Emollients smooth and strengthen skin by filling the spaces between skin flakes with droplets of oil. Ceramides are natural fats that are depleted in the disrupted barrier of dry, flaky, itchy skin, so these lipid molecules that form part of the natural cement between skin cells are great for more dehydrated, dry or mature skins that need some extra help . Other commonly used emollients to fortify the skin barrier include squalene and fatty acids derived from various plant oils (e.g. coconut oil, grapeseed oil).
– By Emily Wong