All the things from yesterday's post that offer emolliency - oils, butters, cationic compounds and polymers, proteins - will help trap in the moisture, and the do to the double duty of making our skin feel softer. But there are other ingredients we can use to occlude our skin. These are called barrier ingredients, because they set up a barrier between your skin and the outside world.
Cocoa, shea, mango, and other butters are great barrier ingredients, protecting your skin from TEWL and from further damage from the outside world. Each butter has its own benefits, but the key is that they stay on the skin. (For more on butters, please check out my post on this topic!)
Allantoin is another great barrier ingredient found in aloe vera and comfrey oil. You can also buy this in a white powder you can add to your products. It can help increase the water content of the stratum corneum (and this is always a good thing!) It can promote cell proliferation and wound healing. It's soothing to skin and is anti-irritant.
You can add it as aloe vera liquid, gel, or powder, or you can use comfrey oil (but do not use this on broken skin!) to get these great benefits. You can use aloe vera to your heart's content at whatever quantities you want, but I'd keep the comfrey oil below 2%. And allantoin (the powder) can be added to your lotions at up to 2% in the cooling phase. Allantoin is water soluble, so if it is not dissolved properly, it can get gritty, but this is a fantastic addition to products intended to keep out the cold, wind, and sun.
Dimethicone is another recognized barrier ingredient. It's a silicone that offers a soft, silky feel to your products. It is oil soluble, so it's not suitable for things like toners or sprays, but you can use it in small quantities in surfactant systems like shampoos. You can get water soluble dimethicone for things like toners! Use this at up to 5% (although I prefer no more than 3%) in your creations to for both the silky feeling and the occlusion properties.
Silicones act as emollients, film formers, and barrier ingredients! All around awesome!
Waxes are great occlusive ingredients, and adding beeswax and other waxes to your lotions creates a more occlusive lotion than one without. This is the way lip balms work - they trap in the moisture on your lips to moisturize.
If you're looking a really occlusive product, look no further than the humble lotion bar. Filled with occlusive oils, butters, and waxes, you can make it really awesome by adding a little dimethicone and some aloe oil (allantoin will not dissolve in the oils, so use aloe or comfrey oil instead).
Now that you know all about the three factors for great skin care products, join me on Thursday to take a closer look at honeyquat - a cationic polymer that acts as both a humectant and an emollient!