Ingredients in Skin Cream
Skin cream and skin lotion are not the same. Skin cream is thicker than lotion, sometimes pasty, and it usually contains 50 percent oil and 50 percent water. While skin creams and lotions may both cleanse, moisturize, lighten or medicate, skin cream contains ingredients that allow it to remain on the skin and provide protection for a longer time.
Emollients are ingredients from animal, mineral or vegetable sources used to thicken skin cream and soften and soothe the skin. They are oil-based ingredients good for aging, dry or sensitive skin and for skin conditions such as eczema. Examples include cocoa butter, shea butter, sweet almond oil, apricot oil, mineral oil and petrolatum.
Humectants, common in oil-free skin cream, are ingredients that attract moisture from the air and act as a barrier to keep moisture on your skin. Common examples of humectants include glycerin, propylene glycol, sorbitol, lactic acid, collagen, sodium PCA, colloidal oatmeal and hyaluronic acid.
Emulsifiers work as binding agents to keep skin cream ingredients from separating. They create a smooth texture to the cream by allowing oily emollients and humectants to bind with water. Examples include cetyl alcohol, sorbitan laurate, lanolin and beeswax.
Surfactants are common in skin cleansing creams. They work in a similar way to emulsifiers, in that they reduce surface tension, allowing oil to mix with water. In addition, surfactants include detergent properties that clean your skin. Skin cleansing creams usually contain more than one surfactant. Examples include ammonium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, olive butter and decyl-polyglucose.
Skin cream designed to lighten your skin or reduce the appearance of skin discolorations contains a bleaching agent. Bleaching agents suppress the effects of melanosomes and the enzyme tyrosinase, both responsible for skin pigmentation. These agents work slowly, sometimes requiring between two and six months to show their full effect. Examples of bleaching agents include meladerm, hydroquinone, azelaic acid, kojic acid and mequinol.
Wrinkle creams contain tightening agents. They exfoliate, or remove, the top layer of skin, giving it a smoother appearance. Some also stimulate collagen production, further reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Examples of tightening agents include alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids, and retinol, a form of vitamin A.
Many skin creams contain ingredients that make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Sunscreen agents are added to protect the skin by blocking ultraviolet rays. Examples of sunscreen agents include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
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