Why Skin Needs Moisture

No matter your skin type, moisturizer is an excellent product to incorporate into your daily skincare routine as it can keep your skin hydrated and refreshed. As we age, the oil glands that keep our skin healthy lose their power, which causes them to create less oil. Moisturizing daily helps the glands to not have to work as hard to keep your skin feeling and looking its best. In this blog, we’ll discuss the skin’s lipid barrier, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), the difference between hydration and moisture, dry vs. dehydrated skin, and the reasons why your skin needs moisture.

What’s Your Skin’s Lipid Barrier?

Your skin is made up of layers with each one performing important functions in protecting your body. The outermost layer, known as the stratum corneum, is often described as a brick wall.1 It consists of tough skin cells called corneocytes that are bound together by mortar-like lipids. This is your skin barrier.2 Inside the skin cells, or “bricks,” you’ll find keratin and natural moisturizers. 

The lipid layer contains:

  • Cholesterol
  • Fatty Acids
  • Ceramides

Without your skin’s lipid barrier, various harmful environmental toxins and pathogens could penetrate your skin and cause adverse effects inside your body.3 Additionally, if you didn’t have a skin barrier, the water inside your body would escape and evaporate, leaving you completely dehydrated.4

Layers of the Skin

Pictured: Layers of the Skin     Source: Dermascope

A  Brief Dive Into Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)

To understand TEWL, let’s revisit the layers of your skin. Your skin is comprised of three primary layers. The outermost layer is known as the epidermis, which is what you see in the mirror. The dermis is the middle layer, while the hypodermis is the innermost layer. TEWL occurs when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates through the skin barrier.5

Dermatologist Anna Guanche mentions, “The skin barrier consists of the epidermis and, most specifically, the hard, outermost layer of the stratum corneum. The epidermis is what we typically think of as the outer layer of the skin, but it’s made up of five layers. The outermost layer of the epidermis is the stratum corneum.”

When the stratum corneum is compromised, moisture evaporates through the ineffective skin barrier, and you may see very dry, dull or dehydrated skin. Your skin is typically wise enough to regulate water loss and retain hydration on its own, but sometimes certain factors damage your skin barrier’s function, exacerbating dryness.6

Pictured: Skin with barrier still intact vs. Skin with barrier integrity damaged      Source: Eminence

Here are four signs that you may be experiencing TEWL:

  • Irritation
  • Flaking
  • Itchiness
  • Tightness

The Difference Between Hydration and Moisture

A simple way to differentiate these terms is to remember that hydration refers to water while moisture refers to oil.7 However, it’s crucial to first understand the difference between a humectant, emollient, and a sealant, along with why they are used in various beauty and skincare products.8

Board-certified dermatologist Annie Gonzalez says, “Humectants, which hydrate the skin, pull water into the skin from within the body or the environment. Emollients moisturize the skin by filling in the gaps between skin cells and replacing missing lipids to fortify the skin. Sealants, which moisturize the skin, seal in water and help shore up the skin’s barrier functions.” 


Humectants are water-loving ingredients that work by attracting water molecules from either the environment or from deeper within the body, ultimately adding more water content to the skin. Our skin naturally makes humectants, as well. These are called natural moisture factors (or NMFs), and they include things like lactic acid and urea.9

Powerful humectants include:

  • Glycerin
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Glycols


Emollients are lighter oil-based substances that work by covering the skin with a protective film to trap in moisture. Emollients are often used to help manage dry, itchy, or scaly skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and ichthyosis.10

More specific examples of emollients include:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Squalane
  • Cocoa Butter


The skin’s natural barrier acts as a shield for the skin, keeping vitamins and nutrients in and keeping toxins, pollutants, and other environmental aggressors out. Sealants add to the skin’s natural barrier by protecting the skin, preventing TEWL, and sealing in moisture.11

In general, sealants are heavier, waxy substances, which include:

  • Lanolin
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Heavier Silicones

Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin

You may be wondering how to determine whether you need hydration or moisture from your skincare products. In short, you need both types of products to ensure that your skin’s lipid barrier is functioning properly. However, it’s important to know the difference between dry and dehydrated skin so you can adjust your skincare routine’s hydration-to-moisture ratios to better fit your skin’s needs.

Third-generation aesthetician, CEO, and Co-Founder of Glowbar, Rachel Liverman, says, “If your skin is dry, it means it lacks oil, so the solution would be a moisturizer; if your skin is dehydrated, meaning it lacks water, you need a hydrator.” A good way to tell whether your skin is dry or dehydrated is to look at its texture. Dehydrated skin tends to look dull and feel tight, whereas dry skin is often flaky, patchy, and sometimes red.12

Liverman explains, “If a client’s skin is presenting as dry (lacking oil), we choose a moisturizer with more humectants and emollients. If a client’s skin shows signs of dehydration, we choose serums with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides. It’s important to remember, though, whether you are dry or dehydrated, I, along with many, recommend using both humectants and sealants.”

Hydrators vs. Moisturizers

Pictured: Hydrators and Moisturizers Ven Diagram     Source: Xtend Life

The Importance of Moisturizing

Moisturizing is a key step in any skincare routine. Here are five reasons why moistuzing your skin is so important:

  • Moisturizing can help your skin repair itself. The most sensitive areas of your skin, like the face, ears, and neck, replace themselves more often than any other area on your skin, which leaves these areas vulnerable to dryness and the elements. Moisturizing can help give your skin the boost it needs to repair itself and stay healthy.13
  • Moisturizing can help keep acne at bay. While excess oil is normally the culprit behind breakouts, dry skin can signal your skin to produce more oil, thus leading to acne. Moisturizing can stop your skin from overcompensating with sebum, which in turn can keep acne at bay.14
  • Moisturizing can give you a smooth base for applying makeup. Moisturizing a few minutes before you apply your makeup can give you a smoother surface to work with, resulting in a more even complexion.15
  • Moisturizing can slow down the signs of skin aging. Properly moisturizing your skin can keep it from developing pre-mature lines and wrinkles. Plus, it can can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles that are already present. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that subjects who used moisturizer developed wrinkles much slower than those who didn’t.16

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye Cream 

Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye Cream

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye Cream are powerful, moisturizing skin treatments that fuse together the power of humectants, emollients, and sealants to keep your skin healthy and ready to take on the day. 

You can shop the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye Cream here.


https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-barrier#:~:text=Your%20skin%20is%20made%20up,This%20is%20your%20skin%20barrier. [1][2]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2843412/ [3][4]

https://eminenceorganics.com/us/blog/2021/09/20/what-transepidermal-water-loss-how-stop-it#:~:text=TEWL%20occurs%20when%20water%20passes,layer%20of%20the%20stratum%20corneum. [5][6]

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hydration-vs-moisture [7][8]

https://www.healthline.com/health/humectant#:~:text=A%20humectant%20is%20a%20common,of%20the%20product%20at%20hand. [9]

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/emollients/ [10]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536416/ [11]

https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/dry-vs-dehydrated [12]

https://www.vogue.in/beauty/content/winter-skincare-diet-tips-to-hydrate-your-skin-from-within [13]

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/moisturizer#:~:text=In%20studies%2C%20most%20patients%20see,medication%2C%20cleanser%2C%20and%20moisturizer. [14]

https://www.stives.com/how-to-moisturize-before-makeup#:~:text=Moisturizer%20does%20two%20very%20important,cause%20it%20to%20look%20cakey. [15]

https://www.glowday.com/blog/the-importance-of-moisturiser-in-the-ageing-process [16]

Ingredient Spotlight: Squalane

Your skin has a built-in moisturizing system, but as you get older, it doesn’t always provide enough hydration, which is why many people turn to external moisturizers. Squalane, a moisturizer worth taking note of, mimics your skin’s oils, making it an excellent emollient. Squalane can also help address stubborn acne and provide antioxidant defense against free radical damage.

Squalane vs. Squalene

Sometimes reading product labels can seem like a daunting college exam. Small spelling variations between ingredients can mean a difference in safety, efficacy, or potency. Squalene and squalane, for example, can easily be mistaken for each other, however, the two agents are actually quite different.


Squalene (with an “e”) is a fat-soluble antioxidant that naturally occurs in the skin. It is produced during cholesterol synthesis. Similar to Vitamin E, squalene can help protect against environmental stressors.1 However, squalene is highly unstable, making its shelf life extremely short. Squalene is also highly comedogenic.

Additionally, squalene is a lipid produced naturally by your own body, but the amount of squalene your body creates drastically declines with age. The peak production of squalene occurs in your teen years, and it gradually slows down after that.2

Your Hydration Timeline

Source: Biossance

For many generations, squalene was used in beauty products for its moisturizing benefits. The primary source of commercial squalene was, believe it or not, sharks. Millions of sharks were slaughtered for their squalene-rich livers to keep up with the demand. Up to 80% of the oil in sharks’ livers is comprised of squalene, which is notable considering that a shark’s liver makes up 25% of its mass.3 Alternative squalene sources do exist, such as olive oil, rice bran, wheat germ, plant sugars, and amaranth seeds.4


Squalane (with an “a”) is a hydrocarbon that’s derived from the hydrogenation of squalene (with an “e”). Squalane is the saturated and stable form of squalene. It’s also much lighter than its “e” counterpart, thus making it a preferred option for acne-prone skin. Squalane’s shelf life is also longer as it does not oxidize as quickly. Thus, it is far more commonly used in skincare today than squalene.

Like squalene, squalane also naturally occurs in small amounts in the lipid layers of the skin. It helps to prevent moisture loss while restoring the skin’s suppleness and flexibility.5 Squalane is readily emulsifiable, has excellent dispersion properties, and is highly compatible with other skincare ingredients. It also can be used without limits in many different types of formulas, as it is considered non-toxic and non-irritating.6

A company called Amyris has created a proprietary non-animal version of squalane that is made with fermented yeast and sugarcane. Known as Neossance Squalane, this noteworthy ingredient has helped to sustainably replace the shark-derived ingredient, saving more than 2 million sharks per year.7

About Amyris

Amyris was founded in 2003 with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The company ferments various yeast strains in sugarcane syrup to convert basic plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules. As of this year, Amyris has created and commercialized 13 sustainable ingredients that are used by more than 3,000 top global brands.8

Amyris is commendable in its mission is to shift the world to sustainable ingredients. It maintains an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report documenting its impact.9 Sharing the belief that human health, wellness, and beauty can be assisted with clean chemistry, brands like L’Oréal, Shiseido, Estee Lauder, and now Humanist Beauty have all chosen Amyris as an ingredient partner.

About Neossance Squalane

Neossance Squalane is a high-quality, highly versatile emollient used in a wide variety of beauty products such as skincare, sun care, color cosmetics, makeup removers, and deodorants.10

The key skincare benefits of Neossance Squalane:

  • Moisturizes
  • Improves skin elasticity
  • Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Enhances skin barrier integrity
  • Promotes cell turnover
  • Brightens skin
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Non-comedogenic

There are many environmental reasons why Neossance Squalane is superior to other types of squalane. First, it is made from highly renewable Brazilian sugarcane which requires little to no irrigation due to abundant natural rain. Second, sugarcane helps to naturally offset greenhouse gas emissions. And third, Neossance Squalane has been proven to be far more predictable in quality than squalane derived from other botanical sources such as olive oil.

A comparison of squalane from shark, olive and sugarcaneAprinnova and Neossance Squalane Clinical Studies

Clinical studies show that Neossance Squalane has amazing effects on the skin. Aprinnova, which is a joint venture between Amyris and the Nikkol Group, administers the bulk of Neossance Squalane research-based studies.

A clinical study performed by Aprinnova had a panel of 40 women aged 37 to 60 apply Neossance Squalane oil to their skin twice daily for 28 days. The results showed that Neossance Squalane had a smoothing effect plus a reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet.

Source: Aprinnova

Another clinical study performed by Aprinnova had a panel of 30 women aged 40 to 60 apply Neossance Squalane twice daily to facial skin for 28 days. The study showed transepidermal water loss (TEWL) was reduced by an average of 18%, and the skin-lipid barrier was enhanced.

Clinical Results of Reduced Transepidermal Water Loss

Source: Aprinnova

Additionally, after applying Neossance Squalane once a day to body skin after showering, 32 women aged 20 to 65 were surveyed with the following results:

  • 100% agreed that dryness on elbows and knees was reduced.
  • 97% agreed that legs were smoother and more moisturized.
  • 96% agreed that arms and legs had a healthy and radiant glow.
  • 94% agreed that legs appeared younger-looking.

Natural Assurances of Neossance Squalane

Neossance Squalane is ECOCERT-approved. ECOCERT is a well-established product certification that standardizes criteria for “natural” and “organic” ingredients. To be ECOCERT-approved, an ingredient or formula cannot contain:

  • GMOs
  • PEG
  • Silicon
  • Parabens
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Nanoparticles
  • Synthetic perfumes and dyes
  • Animal-derived ingredients

Neossance Squalane is also a USDA Certified Bio-based Product. This certification attests that ingredients come from renewable biological sources. Products that are bio-based help increase the use of renewable resources while decreasing the use of non-renewable resources.12 In many cases, bio-based products are cost-comparative, readily available, and perform as well or better than their petroleum-containing counterparts.13

Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil

Neossance Squalane is one of the key natural, sustainable, high-performance ingredients found in Herban Wisdom Facial Oil. It is formulated at an active level to help prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) while restoring skin suppleness and flexibility.

The Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil is a powerful facial treatment fusing clean plant nutrients rich in antioxidants, adaptogens, anti-aging, and moisturizing properties. It is light in feel yet potent in activity.

Humanist Beauty is fully transparent about every ingredient in each of our products. We ensure that you are getting the highest quality formulations comprised of clean, vegan, nutrient-rich, ethically sourced, highly effective botanicals. If you’d like to review our complete ingredient summary, click here.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squalene#:~:text=Squalene%20is%20an%20organic%20compound,squalene%20as%20a%20biochemical%20intermediate. [1]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6253993/ [2]

https://usa.oceana.org/shark-squalene#:~:text=Sharks%20that%20live%20in%20deeper,is%20a%20compound%20called%20squalene.&text=Sharks%2C%20especially%20deep%2Dsea%20sharks,squalene%20found%20in%20their%20livers. [3] [4]

https://aprinnova.com/neossance-squalane/ [5] [6]

https://amyris.com/ingredient/squalane [7] [10] [11]

https://amyris.com/about-us [8]

https://amyris.com/sustainability [9]

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2016/02/18/fact-sheet-overview-usdas-biopreferred-program#:~:text=The%20USDA%20Certified%20Biobased%20Product%20label%20is%20designed%20to%20provide,amount%20of%20renewable%20biological%20ingredients. [12] [13]