Research has shown that hydration is a priority for consumers. This is particularly the case as environmental stressors like urbanization and climate change take a greater toll on our skin. Currently, 56% of British women believe they need to protect their skin from pollution, and as global temperatures rise, UV damage is of increasing concern (Lightspeed/Mintel, 2018). In the face of these man-made aggressors, it’s unsurprising that the natural moisturizer in some cosmetics is seen as an antidote.
This is even more so the case in the wake of the global pandemic. Moisturizing products have always enjoyed remarkable market penetration, with 72% of US women and 27% of men using a facial moisturizer. Meanwhile, in China, 75% of women use moisturizer daily (Mintel, 2019). Although moisturizer has always been a primary personal care category, the additional stressors of mask usage and generally heightened concerns with well-being is driving the hydration segment. The already lucrative natural moisture market is set to grow – but it will be driven by specific consumer demands that the industry must meet.
The role of hydration in the skin’s barrier function
It’s a tough world out there. Skin care is increasingly focused on protection and to protect the integrity of the skin’s barrier, or stratum corneum, hydration is crucial. A healthy stratum corneum is characterized by a soft, strong, and pliant texture, which creates an effective barrier to external stressors. In contrast, a weak stratum corneum will appear dull, flakey, and feel uncomfortable. Poor hydration can also lead to premature aging, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Moisture in the skin escapes through a process known as transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Essentially, water evaporates through the skin into the atmosphere due to the water pressure gradient on both sides of the stratum corneum. High TEWL suppresses enzymatic functions needed for normal desquamation, thus resulting in the appearance of dry or flaky skin.
The retention of water in the skin’s barrier depends on the presence of hygroscopic agents within the cellular structure. These agents are collectively referred to as natural moisturizing factor (NMF). Ingredients that support skin moisture levels are aimed primarily at maintaining the NMF and regulating TEWL to improve the skin’s barrier function.
A complex network of consumer demands
As this brief explanation demonstrates, hydration is integral to strengthening the skin’s natural barrier, and thus, protecting from external stressors. However, merely making hydration claims isn’t enough; consumers have a complex set of requirements for moisturizing products. These can be summarized via three primary aspects: multifunctional, natural, and scientifically proven.
Enhancing the skin’s barrier is of particular concern to consumers, who want protection from UV rays, pollution, and other environmental factors. They realize that to do this effectively, products need to be multifunctional: that is, provide instant results and long-term protection. Take a hydrating SPF as an example; these products provide daily sun protection while regulating TEWL long-term.
Furthermore, consumers are increasingly turning to nature to counter man-made aggressors. However, they want naturally-derived ingredients to have scientifically proven efficacy. Natural, recognizable ingredients benefit from the ‘healthy halo’ enjoyed by consumables, but brands need to make sure this is backed by evidence. Consumers are becoming increasingly curious – last year, 29% of adults researched a beauty brand to find out if it is eco-friendly – so brands need to make sure their claims are substantiated (Mintel, 2019).
How the natural moisturizer in some cosmetics meets these requirements
So how do brands navigate this interconnected set of demands? Essentially, it’s down to research: the natural moisturizer in some cosmetics is multifunctional and intensely hydrating. Although many natural additives will appear in moisturizing products to invoke the aforementioned ‘healthy halo’, ingredients like aloe vera, algae, sugars, and honey are particularly powerful.
This is because such extracts have benefits aside from their emollient effects. Many have antioxidant, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties that support the skin’s natural barrier. Products containing honey are a particularly interesting proposition, as the matrices in a glycerin extract of honey have been found to have intensive moisturizing properties. In an in vivo study, the higher the concentration of extract, the better the hydration: researchers found TEWL was reduced and the pH of the skin’s surface was maintained (Pavlačková et al., 2020).
Plus, the sugars present in honey have also been found to have anti-microbial properties. It’s been thought for centuries that honey stimulates the immune system, and now, this is scientifically proven. This is because honey activates various chemical processes, including releasing a supply of glucose for respiratory burst and energy production. In turn, these processes fuel the bacteria-destroying action of the immune system.
Provital’s research with acacia honey
Inspired by the potential of honey as a natural moisturizer in some cosmetics, Provital has researched this extract’s remarkable effects. During tests, it was found that acacia honey deposits carbohydrates on the surface of the stratum corneum, acting as moisturizing and filmogen substances. This noticeably improves the skin’s biomechanical properties and maintains the moisture balance to enhance flexibility in the stratum corneum.
This in turn facilitates desquamation through their action on the skin’s cellular structure and lipid content, which supports the barrier function. As such, this Acacia Honey extracts meet consumer demands from every angle: it provides intensive, certified-natural moisturization, with scientifically proven results.