Moisturizing is one of the key components of a good skincare routine. But have you ever thought about what goes into your moisturizer? An emollient is one of the main ingredients in your moisturizer.
Emollients help soften dry, rough, and flaky skin to make it look bright and healthy. In this article, we discuss the benefits, uses, and types of emollients. Read on to learn more.
What Are Emollients And What Do They Do?
Often the outer layer of your skin doesn’t contain enough water. The surface dries up and starts to crack and flake, which leaves open spaces between the cells of your skin. Emollients fill these empty spaces with fatty substances called lipids. They make your skin softer and smoother.
Few emollients contain a lot of oils and work as occlusive agents  to keep your skin hydrated for longer. Essentially, emollients coat your skin with an oily film that locks the water in your skin.
Sometimes, people confuse emollients with moisturizers, but as mentioned earlier, an emollient is one of the ingredients used in a moisturizer. While the other ingredients in your moisturizer bring water into your skin, emollients seal the water.
You can use emollient creams to treat and prevent dry, rough, scaly, and itchy skin. They also help deal with minor skin irritations like diaper rash and skin burn.
Forms Of Emollients
Emollients are available in various forms, including lotions, sprays, creams, ointments, and soap substitutes.
1. Sprays – Sprays are excellent for hard to access areas of your body, such as your back. They are easily absorbed into the skin.
2. Lotions – Lotions can do wonders for skin conditions like weeping eczema. Eczema spreads easily. Thus, creams are the best solutions.
3. Ointments – Ointments are perfect for dry and thickened skin. Owing to their thick, greasy texture, they should ideally be used at night.
4. Soap Substitutes – These are alternative cleansers that can clean like soap and contain emollient oils to protect and nourish the skin.
Topical and natural emollients can reduce inflammation and soften the skin so that ingredients can penetrate more deeply. Natural emollients are either derived from animals or vegetables. Depending on their consistency, they can be classified as oils or butter.
Plant-based emollients are usually extracted by cold-pressing leaves, seeds, ground fruits, and nuts.
Commonly Used Plant-Based Emollients
- Castor Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Shea Butter
- Cocoa Butter
- Argan Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
What Are The Benefits Of Emollients?
Many people experience dry and irritated skin over time. This problem becomes more severe, especially during winters.
Excessive washing of your hands or working with harsh chemicals can cause dryness too. Besides soothing your dry skin, emollients work effectively for the following skin conditions:
How To Use Emollients?
Whether you're using a moisturizer or a cream, you should use it as directed by your dermatologist.
1. Read the instructions on the label carefully to avoid any type of mistake.
2. How frequent you need to use the product generally depends on your skin condition.
3. To treat dry and flaky hands, we suggest you to use hand cream after every wash.
4. To cure diaper rash, clean the area and allow it to dry before you use the product.
5. For radiation burn treatment, check with a professional to get the right topical emollient.
6. Avoid using emollients on sensitive parts, such as your eyes, mouth, nose, and privates.
7. Use emollients consistently to get the best results.
8. Most moisturizing works best on damp skin. Thus, using the product straight after a shower will help it get absorbed into the skin quickly.
How To Choose A Suitable Emollient?
Emollients come in many forms, and you can get them over the counter easily. However, few higher-strength emollients require a prescription. Your doctor can help choose the right emollient for you based on the following factors:
- Dryness of your skin
- Your skin type
- The affected area of your skin
- What other products you use
- Personal preference
Tips For Applying Emollients
- Apply the product gently in the direction of hair growth.
- Use it at least thrice a day
- Do not over-rub to prevent irritation.
- Be gentle while using soap substitutes to avoid abrasion.
Which Emollients Contain Paraffin?
Paraffin (also identified as mineral oil, liquid paraffin, or petroleum jelly) is present everywhere. It is included in nearly every emollient prescribed or recommended for eczema, psoriasis, or dry skin. Many generic moisturizers and hand creams also contain paraffin.
Side Effects Of Emollients
Usually, general emollients are safe and effective to use. But some people may experience side effects like burning, stinging, redness, or irritation in the skin.
Certain high strength emollients may cause unusual skin changes like white skin and damp skin, which can be signs of skin infection.
Emollients rarely cause any severe allergic reaction. However, you need to seek immediate medical attention if you notice any warning signs such as rashes and itching on your face, tongue, or throat.
In severe cases, people may experience dizziness or trouble breathing.
Drug Interaction And Precautions
In general, drugs do not interact much with emollients. Emollients are fairly inert and unreactive in most cases. But for exceptions, the reaction may vary from person to person depending on their health concerns.
Still, if you want your doctor’s opinion, provide him/her the details of any prescribed or non-prescribed medications or herbal products that you use.
Some ingredients in emollients, such as preservatives and fragrance may affect your skin when you are out in the sun. It’s better to check the label for warnings to take any special precautions in such cases.Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing to protect your skin from sun damage.
If you have any skin issues like cuts, infections, and sores, then it is essential to take advice from your doctor before using emollients.
Some emollients may not be ideal for acne. If your skin is acne-prone, you should opt for non-comedogenic products, to prevent clogging your pores.
If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use any products without informing your doctor.
Emollients are useful for healing dry, itchy, and flaky skin. It is essential to choose an emollient that you are comfortable with and can use daily.
Remember, emollients work best when you use an adequate amount consistently. If you do this, you will be surprised how quickly your dry skin recovers and becomes soft and smooth again.
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