Carrier oils: Moisturizing and/or Emollient

by Jade Shutes

There is often confusion between the terms moisturizer and emollient. Moisturizing typically refers to the act of adding water to the skin to hydrate it, while an emollient works to soften and soothe the skin.

Taking care of our skin is an essential part of our overall well-being. Understanding the differences between moisturizing and emollient products is a great step towards achieving healthy and hydrated skin. By incorporating carrier oils into our skincare routine, we can provide our skin with the nourishing benefits of natural ingredients.

It’s important to remember that although carrier oils may not provide the same level of hydration as creams or lotions, they still play a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin. By preventing water loss, they help keep our skin supple and radiant. Making simple changes to our skincare routine, such as applying carrier oils to damp skin, can make a significant difference in how our skin looks and feels.

Preventing water loss from the skin: Why it’s important

The stratum corneum is a part of the epidermis, the outermost layer of our skin, which consists of five layers. Composed of dead skin cells called corneocytes filled with keratin, a fibrous protein that provides strength and protection, the stratum corneum acts as a barrier to the external environment, shielding the body from harmful agents like bacteria, viruses, and UV radiation.

One of the critical functions of the stratum corneum is to regulate the flow of moisture in and out of the skin. This is important because the skin needs to stay hydrated to function correctly. The stratum corneum prevents excessive water loss from the skin’s deeper layers while allowing a controlled amount of water to evaporate from the surface, which helps regulate body temperature.

To maintain the health and integrity of the stratum corneum, it’s important to use skincare products that can help strengthen the skin barrier and prevent moisture loss. Moisturizers are an effective way to hydrate the skin by delivering water and other humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin to the deeper layers of the skin. On the other hand, carrier oils, such as jojoba, argan, or avocado oil, can help to nourish and protect the skin by preventing transepidermal water loss and locking in moisture.

By incorporating moisturizers and carrier oils into your skincare routine, you can help protect and strengthen your skin’s natural barrier, promoting healthy and hydrated skin.

Emollients such as honey, glycerin, and seaweed or algae serve as humectants, which are substances that attract water. In addition to humectants, substances such as beeswax, squalene, lanolin, shea butter, avocado oil, and other vegetable oils provide valuable nutrients to the skin and also serve as emollients that are considered slightly occlusive. Occlusive substances have a hydrating effect on the skin because they form a barrier on the skin’s surface, which helps to reduce the evaporation of water from the skin. These emollients work together with humectants to help keep the skin moisturized and healthy.

On a slightly different note:  A few years back Bob Harris included a brief research report in the International Journal of Essential Oil Research (or it could have been the IJA) on how some essential oils, specifically German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) can enhance the absorption of water through the skin. This could be incredibly valuable for using German chamomile in serums along with hydrosols in moisturizing the skin. Of course, attending to other variables which may be contributing to dryness (e.g. air quality, water intake, diet, etc. etc.).

Interested in learning more about carrier oils?

Join our Carrier Oil Palette live online workshop beginning Wednesday, April 19th. To learn more, visit here!