Pamela Ponders: Since the weather is getting drier, I’ve decided to look for some cuticle treaments to help them from drying. I’ve noticed that a lot of them include very similar ingredients, like jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, shea butter, and in particular sweet almond oil and lavender oil. Do these ingredients really help to moisturize and what exactly do they do? I’ve noticed a lot of body care products emphasize shea butter. I’ve also noticed them some body lotions have coconut oil in it, is this another beneficial ingredient?
The Right Brain Responds:
All the oils you mentioned can moisturize skin – but they’re not the BEST moisturizers. What are the best, you ask? Ah, that is the question. But first you have to sit through this quick explanation:
How Oils Moisturize
Moisture evaporates from your skin by slipping though tiny cracks and fissures. Oils form a barrier layer on top of the skin that prevents the water molecules from escaping. It’s all about stopping evaporation! This property is called occlusivity and it’s measured by a rating called Transepidermal Water Loss, or TEWL. (pronounced “tool.”) The TEWL value has been measured for various oils, and the ones that have the highest rating (in other words, the ones that stop the most water from escaping your skin) are as follows:
1. Petroleum jelly
(in a minimum concentration of 5%, reduces TEWL by more than 98%)
3. Mineral oil
a type of silicone
5. Coconut Oil and Others
including other oils (like coconut oil), fatty alcohols, and waxes
Some of the other oils you mentioned are still beneficial – they can make skin feel softer and smoother. But if really want to keep your skin moist, you need to reduce evaporation with one of these top 5.