I have been asked so many times, “How does a cosmetic hydrate the skin”? I will tell you what I know from both a scientific and common sense perspective. FYI, the purpose of this article is to inform the general consumer about hydration and the role cosmetics plays in their ability to hydrate the skin. Dehydration, UVA/UVB skin protection, dermis barrier penetration, and the use of antioxidants and super antioxidants as inhibitory agents are other topics. Although I have to say, I could not believe the amount of antioxidants mixed with oxidants. Mixing an anti-oxidant with an oxidant will completely neutralize the antioxidant (most manufactures are not well versed in redox potentials).

I again wonder why there are so many antioxidants in some of these high end products, which begs the question: why are there so many antioxidants? Is your dermis always under such overwhelming and severe oxidative attack? With all that being said, I think a high end cosmetic should do at least one of two things. 1) Act as a moisturizer. This implies the cosmetic maintains a barrier between the dermis and the environment, minimizing water loss but also providing Emollients. These are specially designed products to make the external layers of the skin (epidermis) softer and more pliable. 2) A sun screen that blocks 99%+ of the UVA/UVB wavelengths of the sun which actually damage the sun through the epidermis, dermis and, in severe cases, the subcutaneous areas of the skin. Note that the thinest skin area on your face is the eyelid. As Americans increasingly continue to worship the sun, incidence of skin cancer of the eyelids and eye cancer are dramatically increasing.

A cosmetic that hydrates versus one that prevents dehydration are two different things. If something prevents skin dehydration, it does not imply that it is hydrating the skin. These are two completely different bodily effects and functions. Do not let anyone tell you anything different. Adding water to a glass is completely different from letting or getting the water get out of the glass. Cosmetics that claim they are hydrating the skin imply that their proprietary materials and formulas add water to the area where you apply the cosmetic. If you apply the cosmetic to your face, clearly you are not hydrating your feet; it is area-specific.

Okay, let’s say that is true. Cosmetics claim area-specific hydration. I have never bought a cosmetic but research of the top brands indicates they sell them in sizes ranging from 1.7 ounces to about 3.5 ounces. GREAT!! Let’s do some math. One of my favorite subjects, as it is not subject to opinion, just error. It is either done correctly or not.

There are approximately 28 (twenty eight) grams (gm) in 1 (one) ounce (oz). Let’s be generous and round up to 30 gm per ounce for ease of mathematics and to err on the side of positive hydration. I also do not know the weight of one application of these extremely expensive cosmetics. Again, let’s be generous and say that one application weighs 3 gm. I find that also to be quite generous as I used to watch an ex girlfriend use an expensive cosmetic and I doubt it weighed more than an ant’s teeny weenie. Regardless, that would imply in a 3-oz moisturizing cosmetic, you would get 30 applications. If you are able to get more, the weight of the application will drop and lower the hydrating effect.

1 oz = approx. 30 gm (actually 1 oz = 28.35 gm but again, let’s err on the side of caution here). A 3-oz cosmetic thus contains approximately 90 gm of cosmetic. 3 gm per application implies about 30 applications or approximately 1 months’ worth. If you get more app,s you get less material to apply. That is an important note.

Note: If anyone knows these actual numbers, weights, etc., please provide them to me. Thank you.

Great, the hard part is out of the way. In those 3 gm in your cosmetic is the physical hydrating material (water), which contains the valuable components and highly proprietary materials that give you the option to spend $50–200+ for said cosmetic. I performed moisture analyses on five of the major brands. (Just doing that, I realize a woman must have to budget for a top-shelf makeup. Damn.)

What does moisture analysis mean? I weighed out (in triplicate) 10 gm of the “moisturizing or hydrating” cosmetic and heated it to 100° centigrade (C) in a controlled environment (boiling temp is 100°C, 212°F at sea level for you non-metric peeps) for 24 hours and then reweighed to measure water loss, commonly called loss on drying (LOD) or percent remaining also known as percent solids. LOD + % solids = 100%. What information do we get from these simple experiments? It defines how much water is available for hydrating your skin.

The good news: Most of the cosmetics tested only lost between 10–25% of the water content. I could go into statistics and say this and that but instead I will say the correlation coefficient was greater than .99 and ask for your trust on this one. This means you are not paying for water when you purchase your cosmetic, like buying Poland Springs. Hence, that means you are paying for the proprietary ingredients that prevent the skin from aging (so they say), for the super antioxidants they contain, or for the extremely powerful hydrating materials like hyaluronic acid (HA) or some other hydrocolloidal material (water-binding, gel-forming material).

HA is the most widely used cosmetically used hydrocolloid in the world. It is used in almost every known dermal filler or injectable aesthetic. Do you know why? Because it binds water! HA is hygroscopic, it will pull the moisture out of the air, out of the water it is in; it will pull the water from anywhere it can and remain happy as a thickened gel-like substance. 1 gm (1/28th oz) of HA will thicken 1 gallon of water. This is powerful stuff. Hygroscopic materials do not want to give up their water unless they are forced to. This implies that these materials do not want to release water once they have been hydrated. What forces a hygroscopic material to release its water. It depends on the material. A material like HA requires extreme forces, like extreme heat and depleted moisture conditions, severe cold and low moisture surroundings so bad they are hard to imagine. (Think of Antarctica in the middle of winter. If you are still confused, please ask me why that is so detrimental to water loss?) I now ask a common-sense question: does your skin fit any of those aforementioned conditions? Does your physical skin, not the climate or environment surrounding your skin, reflect any of those conditions? Hmmmm. NO. Not only a no, but an emphatic NO!!

As an expert on biochemistry, disease mechanisms, dermal fillers and dermal filler analysis, I know the whys. Information I do not want to know, just because. Whys like: if it binds water so strongly, why does it not last forever, why does it work, why are there side effects, why does it last so long, why does it not work sometime or only last a short time, why do some fillers last longer than others, why do I get these hard lumps, present long (or still) after the material should be gone, why this and why that? Which one is better and WHY? A different topic for a different day.

But here is my point. What if the HA, an extremely large polymer greater than 1 million molecular weight, notoriously noted for its difficulty to be “completely” hydrated (because of it huge size and shape), was not fully hydrated before applying to the skin. It would pull water from every available source it could while still hydrating — yes, from every available source, so think common sense here. For example, let’s say I hydrated some HA to a minimal hydration level and put it on my skin comparable to the average time a cosmetic would be on the skin. Where would the water come from to hydrate the HA. Fortunately, most would come from the atmosphere, but some would come from your skin. How do I know this. I did it last Tuesday, September 1, 2015. I partially hydrated a pharmaceutical grade HA with a known moisture content and bound it for 12 hours to the inside of my bicep as the skin is extremely thin at that location. I prevented environmental moisture factors by wrapping the area in a thin plastic wrap to ensure the HA could not pull water anywhere but from my skin. What happened. Well, it was not pretty and I have been using a mixture of DML, aloe vera extract and lidocaine hydrochloride monohydrate to maintain a moisture barrier in the affected area. What did I learn? Always measure the pH of anything before applying it to your body and do not ever do it again and realize possible consequences, such as wearing a long sleeve shirt before going to the gym. Humor aside, clearly, just because a cosmetic or dermal filler is moist, it does not guarantee the ingredients are fully hydrated. This is extremely important and should be noted.

For a material to want to bind and retain water means it falls under a class of substances known as hygroscopic. They love water and want it badly. Why do people put rice in their saltshakers? Because it will bind to water before the salt does and salt LOVES water. It will, in fact, take the water bound to the salt for itself. If it did not, why would you put rice in a saltshaker so the salt does not turn into a block of cement? The answer is obvious; rice binds water more strongly than salt. That also tells us that rice, a carbohydrate, is considered a hydrocolloid (it likes water and binds to it). Obviously, table salt and all other salts are not created equal. Table salt is sodium chloride; chemically, it is a cation bound to an anion, like potassium salt, which is far better for you to use since it reduces your sodium intake and increases your potassium, but I digress (yes, it can be purchased in your local supermarket). Salt is not good for the skin, so a cosmetic should not contain salt as a water binder. Instead, any cosmetic manufacturer would use a material far more hygroscopic than salt.

So let’s go back to the beginning. Average weight of a hydrating moisturizing cosmetic application is 3 gm. Even though we know less than 25% of the cosmetic is water lets us use a best-case scenario {meaning more cosmetic (higher % solids), less paying for water} and say only 10% of a cosmetic contains bound water. If it is unbound or free water you would just pour it off the top of the container as free water would be seen as a water layer on top, so it must be bound. 10% of 3 gm is .3 gm, which is equivalent to .01 oz of water. Let me say that again with an example. 28 gm of water = 1 oz of water, 3 gm of water is equal to 0.11 oz of water and .3 gm (10% of the 3 gm cosmetic application) is equal to 0.011 oz of water. How much hydrating can in the skin if it only contains 0.011 oz of water. NONE!!!!!!!!!!!!

How many ounces of water a day are we told by professional medical sources in the know to consume? Females are recommended to drink 2.7 liters (approximately 2700 gm or 95 oz) to stay hydrated. 8636 times more water than what is in a typical cosmetic application. Males are recommended to drink 3.7 liters (approximately 3700 gm or 131 oz) to stay hydrated. 11909 times more water than what is in a typical cosmetic application.

I have never seen anyone hospitalized or treated for dehydration of an arm, leg, torso or face. Why? Dehydration is systemic, not area specific.

Please, anyone — and I mean anyone — tell me how a cosmetic breaches the dead skin area and then the dermis, adds a total of 0.011 oz of water over the applied area and at the same time prevents anything less than .011 oz of water from escaping. Give me an experimental design and I will test it.

Here is something that should be noted and an area of concern for anyone who uses cosmetics: the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) position on cosmetics. FDA does not approve cosmetics. They only thing it approves is that the cosmetic contains the proper color additives and only ingredients that the FDA considers safe. They also mandate that it is the responsibility of cosmetics manufacturers to ensure, before marketing their products, that the products are safe when used as directed on the label and under customary conditions of use. The claims on cosmetics are not evaluated by FDA, none of them, zero. The cosmetics are never tested by FDA. Thus, you have to trust the manufacturer.

The definition of a cosmetic: a product applied to the body, especially the face, to improve its appearance. Hmmmmm….

I am a consumer advocate. I also love a woman who wears cosmetics both properly and/or uniquely. I can think of no greater gift to most men (definitely to this man) than a woman who has taken the time to apply cosmetics so she looks younger, feels younger and is the gorgeous, provocative, captivating, striking woman that most men love. When anyone strives “to look, feel and be the best you can be,” well, that is a motto worth dying for, at least in my humble opinion.

With all that said, there are some extremely effective cosmetics out there. They work on levels that are proprietary to the manufacturer or perhaps to someone with the knowledge to figure that information out. Clearly cosmetics are an integral part of the economic and lifestyle systems of every society in some way. Personally I can, with complete honesty and 100% accuracy, say that when a woman I meet has applied cosmetics properly and I see her for the first time, I can only describe that moment as … well “infinite.” At the very least, I feel like the dumb-ass nervous kid on the playground who thinks about asking out the most beautiful girl on the playground in front of everyone. It puts shivers in my spine, provides an excitatory release of endorphines, elevates my respiration, B/P and leaves an unforgettable imprint in my brainpan.

Trust me when I say I believe in the use of cosmetics. That has never been a question or a concern for me.

Someone told me a long time ago when we were under conditions of extreme duress, “Change comes internally or from within.” At the time, I truly did not appreciate the meaning of those spoken words. But later on, I realized what he meant and why he said it at that specific moment in time. I think that specific ethos applies here as well when you realize that your body is nothing more that an extension of the nutritional biochemistry within it. Learn it, do it and then live it. I think you would be surprised on how little cosmetic intervention you would need.

I hope this was informative and for those of you that do not agree or perhaps are a bit upset, I apologize with the caveat, “oh well, too bad, not my fault” its science, not a jaundiced opinion. Unlike water (ooops), I will continue to take the path of most resistance and choose to do that which is right versus that which is easy. This article is not an opinion; it is a dedicated work of science and applied knowledge. My obligation is to those who do not know the “whys” and need to know them. I have the ability, knowledge and obligation to provide it.

If you have individual questions please ask me directly via email. Also, if you see any errors, grammatical or mathematical, please let me know by email and I will do my best to edit correctly or reply and disagree.

Thank you for reading this rather long article. I hope this effort was helpful and insightful, to everyone and I mean everyone concerned.

Chromaceutical Advanced Technologies, Inc.