Skin’s Natural Waterproof Barrier and Why it Matters

It may seem obvious, but your skin is a pretty darn effective waterproof barrier. Yet we discuss using skin products such as moisturizers that penetrate deep within the skin’s surface all the time. So which is it? As with many seemingly disparate concepts, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Your skin is extremely durable and protective, but it does also have the capability of absorbing outside materials.

Today, we will discuss our skin’s natural waterproof barrier, how this outer layer keeps our bodies safe and healthy, and also why this impacts how and when we get dry, cracked, and damaged skin.

The Skin as a Waterproof Barrier

The Skin as a Waterproof Barrier

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Just by taking a glance at our body structure, it becomes apparent that our skin plays several vital roles in keeping us safe and healthy. Amongst the most important of those roles is keeping the rest of our organs dry and protected from outside debris. Without getting too graphic, just imagine the chaos which would ensue without a strong outer layer of skin to protect us! Okay, you can stop imagining that now.

The epidermis is the outer layer of skin, and is actually comprised of two separate layers. The inner epidermis is known as the basal layer. The outer layer of the epidermis is known as the stratum corneum, which is comprised of high concentrations of keratin. Keratin is a protein which strengthens our skin and is responsible for many of the waterproof properties we enjoy. 

Another factor in our skin’s ability to keep moisture out and to lock moisture in comes from natural body oils known as sebum. Sebum gets a bad rap for causing acne and greasy hair, but it is actually a natural, healthy excretion which allows skin to remain strong, hydrated, and healthy.

How do Moisturizers Absorb into Our Skin?

How do Moisturizers Absorb into Our Skin?

This begs the question: if our skin is so effective at keeping out moisture, how do skincare products such as moisturizers actually work? This can be answered in numerous ways, but essentially boils down to two key concepts:

  1. Your skin is not 100% effective as a waterproof barrier. Almost all liquids will absorb somewhat into the skin at varying degrees.
  2. Potent moisturizing products are specifically formulated to absorb into skin. This may take the form of emulsified serums, oil-based products, or simply by using blends of powerful emollients, humectants and other potent ingredients such as amino acids.

We have also not yet discussed the difference between absorption into the top layer of the skin vs. absorption beneath the skin’s surface. Most water-based liquids will penetrate the stratum corneum (top layer of skin) without actually binding. This is one of the ways in which our skin flushes out unwanted external materials. 

This is also why moisturizing products which are specifically formulated for skin absorption are so effective. They are able to use our skin’s natural waterproof barrier as an advantage to keep moisture in rather than blocking moisturizing agents from absorbing. More on this below.

Moisturizers Penetrate Skin to Hydrate on Three Levels

Moisturizers Penetrate Skin to Hydrate on Three Levels

If you’ve read to this point, you might still be a bit confused about how skin can be both waterproof and not waterproof, and also how moisturizers seem to absorb into the skin but also not absorb too deeply. To help explain this seeming logical disparity, here is an explanation on how moisturizers actually work to hydrate your skin:

Emollients penetrate skin’s surface to restore damaged skin from within. The group of ingredients most responsible for penetrating the top layer of skin are known as emollients. Emollients are frequently oil-based, which allows them to penetrate where some water-based ingredients might otherwise be blocked.

Humectants act like a magnet for moisture. Incredibly, humectants are actually able to draw water from within the body to the skin. This allows skin to remain hydrated long after moisturizer is initially applied. Alcohols such as glycerin are common humectants which naturally help this process.

Occlusives trap in moisture by strengthening the waterproof skin barrier. Last, but most certainly not least, occlusives actually strengthen our skin’s natural waterproof barrier by creating an external seal. A common occlusive would be petroleum jelly aka Vaseline. This prevents additional irritants from penetrating the skin while also locking in moisture.

HEFF Moisturizing Cream for Men Locks in Moisture All Day!

For those of us who use our hands for a living, at the gym, or even just for an active hobby, the likelihood is very high that dry skin will develop. That is where powerful moisturizing creams come into play. 

We’re not talking once daily coconut oil application; we’re talking focused hydration to repair chapped and damaged skin. HEFF is an everyday skincare cream engineered to repair, restore, and renew even the driest, most damaged skin. We have harnessed the natural power of amino acids to support your body’s ability to naturally hydrate itself. Unlike some other products, we have skipped the additives and focused on what works. Our formula penetrates deep into the skin, offering relief from within. To learn more, find HEFF at one of many retail locations, online, or contact us directly. Your purchase helps to support Operation Gratitude.