How do body moisturizers work? What To Know

How do body moisturizers work? Moisturizing body creams create a thin layer on the skin, preventing us from losing water, thus maintaining hydration.

When discussing moisturizing creams for the body, most people think of adding water to the skin. However, we will try to explain how these creams work in depth.

To begin with, we must know that moisturizers for the body do not add water to the skin. You cannot get water into the skin beyond the most superficial layers. Also, applying water to the skin will evaporate, taking more or less time depending on the other compounds in the cream.

We have mentioned that you cannot get water into the skin beyond the most superficial layers, but what are those layers, and above all, do we know what the skin is exactly?

The skin

As you know, the skin is the largest organ of the body. One of the main functions is to act as a protective barrier against all kinds of dangers: bacteria, chemical substances and extreme temperatures. The skin can release various secretions to defend itself against bacteria.

The skin can produce melanin, a natural skin pigment that serves as a defense against ultraviolet rays that can damage cells.

Another essential function of the skin is the regulation of body temperature. When the skin gets exposed to cold temperatures, the blood vessels in the dermis constrict, and vasoconstriction (vasospasm) occurs.

Apart from the protection function, it also performs other functions such as:

  • Store water and fat.
  • Serve as a sensory organ.
  • Prevent water loss.

Parts of the skin

There are three layers of the skin.


The epidermis consists of a multi-layered, keratinized squamous epithelium. The horny layer contains dead horny cells. It forms the skin’s uppermost protective barrier. 

The underlying germ layer supplies the horny layer and renews it about every four weeks. The germ layer consists of the basal cell layer and the spinous cell layer. 

In the basal cell layer, the lowest layer of the epidermis, there are stem cells from which the horn-forming cells, the so-called keratinocytes, develop. They migrate upwards into the prickly cell layer, gradually becoming keratinized by forming keratohyalin. 

They flatten out, lose their cell nucleus and become horny cells. The pigment-forming cells, the so-called melanocytes, are also located in the basal cell layer of the epidermis. 

Their pigment melanin is distributed to the epidermis cells and thus determines the skin color and tan. The spinous layer also contains immune cells called Langerhans cells.


Below the epidermis is the dermis (dermis or corium), a layer of connective tissue rich in collagen fibers. The connective tissue fibers ensure the skin’s special elasticity to withstand pressure and shearing forces. 

The dermis is particularly affected by the aging process in humans. Blood and lymphatic vessels and the so-called skin appendages, such as hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands and numerous nerve fibers for tactile and vibration perception, are also embedded in the dermis. The leather and epidermis together form the so-called cutis.

The hypodermis (subcutis)

The layer below the cutis is called the subcutis. It consists of loose connective tissue and fatty tissue. The subcutis protects against the cold, energy storage, and a shifting layer between the actual skin and the connective tissue covering that separates the muscles of the musculoskeletal system.

How do body moisturizers work?

There is a mechanism by which water moves from where it is more concentrated to where it is less concentrated called osmotic equilibrium. So, to hydrate the skin, the first step we must take is to drink water.

The body is always producing sweat, thanks to the sweat glands. Moisturizing body creams create a layer that prevents this perspiration. Therefore, they prevent water loss from the skin.

This effect is achieved by several mechanisms depending on the composition of the moisturizer. It can be due to the use of oils or petroleum derivatives.

They may also contain hygroscopic substances. A hygroscopic substance is capable of absorbing moisture. These substances can retain water three or four times their weight. Retaining the water does not evaporate, and we do not lose it.

Do you use moisturizing body creams well?

Each skin needs a specific moisturizer. Each dermis has different needs. Here we discuss a series of recommendations when using moisturizers.

To begin with, we must clean the skin well before applying the cream. It is essential that there is no makeup and that it is exfoliated. It would also be good to apply a toner to balance the pH.

Body moisturizers should be applied with sun protection, especially for the face or for areas that are going to be in the air. The Sun in winter does not disappear and can produce unpleasant spots on the skin.

Therefore, moisturizers must be used frequently. If you only use it for a day or two and then forget about it, you will not notice any change.

In addition, they should be applied both in the morning and at night every day. However, moisturizers used in the morning should not be the same as those used at night. During the day, extra protection is needed; at night, it is about recovering nutrients and renewing cells.

The functioning of the skin, as well as its composition, is fascinating. In addition, it is worth following the advice described here to achieve long-lasting and effective hydration. It should also be borne in mind that each skin type is different so the beauty routine may vary in terms of the products used.


Body moisturizer is something that most people use on a routine basis without knowing much about why it does what it does or how it does it. 

This article explains precisely that by providing detailed, scientific explanations for each of the main ingredients found in body lotion. 

By the time you finish reading, you’ll know how body moisturizers work and how they can be used to keep your skin looking healthy and glowing.

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