MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Does the type of lotion affect the amount of moisture left on the skin?

Date: Sat Feb 5 11:29:14 2000
Posted By: BOTFIELD Nigel, Staff, Haematology, Scunthorpe General Hospital
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 948237710.Gb

Hi Sharon,

The simple answer to your question is YES – different lotions leave 
different amounts of moisture trapped in the skin. A fuller explanation 
needs a bit of science and some big words so get ready!

There are several types of moisturising chemical and they work in 
different ways. Some form a waterproof layer on top of the skin to trap the water already 
there, these are called emollients ( pronounced ee-mole-ee-ents ).
Others try to get the skin to exfoliate ( pronounced ex-fole-ee-ate ) – 
that is, to shed the top layer of skin which is dry and replace it with a 
younger layer of skin which still contains moisture. The most common 
examples of these are the Alpha Hydroxy Acids ( AHAs ) and the Beta 
Hydroxy Acids ( BHAs ). Hydroxy is pronounced hi-drox-ee.
Other moisturisers use little chemical ‘baggies’ called liposomes ( 
pronounced lie-po-sew-ms ) to carry water deep into the skin. 
Most moisturising lotions use a combination of the different types of 
chemical such as liposomes to carry water into the skin and an emolliant to stop it from 
The Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids come in several strengths – you can buy 
lotions with 2 – 8% Hydroxy Acid over the counter. Stronger lotions with 
12 – 15% Hydroxy Acid have to be prescribed by a doctor. The stronger 
lotions have been shown to be better at improving the condition of the skin.
Different lotions will contain different moisturising chemicals at  different strengths,
so each lotion will trap different amounts of moisture within the skin.
Here are some web sites with some more information. Most of these sites 
have a  ‘CONTACT US’ or ‘E-MAIL US’ banner so you might ask the companies for 
information about their products. If some of the names are unfamiliar it is because
I’m from England and the products may have different names in England and the USA.
Dove can be found at
Nivea can be found at
Oil of Olay can be found at

Information about the different types of moisturisers can be found at –  
This is a page about emollients.  This is a page about AHAs.  This site contains links to other sites 
with information about AHAs, BHAs, exfoliants and a site called Ask 

Last but not least is a site which contains recipes for all kinds of cosmetics including
moisturisers called Rachel’s Supply which can be found at 

Hope this is of help.

Current Queue | Current Queue for General Biology | General Biology archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on General Biology.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2000. All rights reserved.