Natural vs. Chemical: How Moisturized is your Skin?
Mikkah Damji
Mulgrave School
Floor Location : J 204 H

Research was done on how moisturizers work on skin and the different between how natural and chemical based moisturizers work when applied onto skin's surface. It was learned that Moisturizers are made for different skin types out of different solutions. For example humectants, such as glycerin and lactic acid, which attracts water, help skin retain moisture and hydrate. Most general moisturizers consist of 65-85% of water . When the creams are applied onto the skin, the results show on the stratum corneum layer of the epidermis (one of the three layers of skin; the top layer which is exposed to atmosphere and environment). Moisture is delivered to the skin blood vessels but only supplies moisture to the dermis (the middle layer of skin) and from there water travels upwards and outward through the epidermis and evaporates into the environment.

Oil plays a major role when it comes to moisturizing skin. Oil and water do not naturally mix. The atoms within water are not attracted to oil. Since skin is designed to minimize moisture loss and prevent unknown materials from entering, the skin needs to have a covering of lipids, or oil soluble molecules. Moisturizers containing oil soluble components are used to restore the skin back to its natural state. Some moisturizers use a mixture of oil and water soluble components to create an emulsion but when placed in the same container they form a phase. Then a chemical called surfactant (attracted to both water and oil) is used so that the water and oil will phase together. Emulsions provide a convenient and easy way to deliver oil-based products without having to handle them. After the product is applied, excess water will evaporate from the skin, leaving a layer of the oil-soluble product.

Natural based moisturizers work because they include fresh, natural ingredients such as cocoa butter, natural oils, and harvested vegetables. These products contain nutrients and vitamins which nourishes skin. Since natural moisturizing creams are oil based, they use essential natural oils in fresh ingredients like almond oil and coconut oil. The oil naturally creates emulsions when water is added by the natural liquid in fruits and vegetables.

The other source of this experiment is chemical based moisturizers. Chemicals are created by scientists to fulfill a certain task by creating chemical reactions and changes. Chemicals preserve other ingredients in the moisturizing cream, to keep it fresh. For example, L'Oréal uses chemicals in their moisturizers like isohexadecane and dimethicone.

Natural based moisturizers have a more positive impact on the earth because they are usually made up of ingredients that are sustainable and natural and that do not usually harm animals. Chemical based products sometimes have a negative effect on the environment. The cosmetic chemicals are not only harmful to marine life, but it also affects the water cycle. It was important to learn about the positive and negative affects that the different types of moisturizers had on the scientific community and on consumers.