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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Jun;1778(6):1517-24. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2008.03.006. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

FTIR studies show lipophilic moisturizers to interact with stratum corneum lipids, rendering the more densely packed.

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Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research, Gorlaeus Laboratories, Leiden University, The Netherlands.


Lipophilic moisturizers are widely used to treat dry skin. However, their interaction with the lipids in the upper layer of the skin, the stratum corneum (SC), is largely unknown. In the present study this interaction of three moisturizers, isostearyl isostearate (ISIS), isopropyl isostearate (IPIS) and glycerol monoisostearate (GMIS), has been elucidated using lipid mixtures containing isolated ceramides (CER), cholesterol (CHOL) and free fatty acids (FFA), mimicking the lipid composition and organization in SC. The conformational ordering and the lateral packing of the lipid mixtures were examined by Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy. Equimolar CER:CHOL:FFA mixtures show an orthorhombic to hexagonal phase transition between 22 and 30 degrees C and an ordered-disordered phase transition between 46 and 64 degrees C. Addition of 20% m/m ISIS or IPIS increased the thermotropic stability of the orthorhombic lateral packing, while GMIS had no influence. Furthermore, small amounts of all three moisturizers are incorporated into the CER:CHOL:FFA lattice, while the majority of the moisturizer exists in separate domains. Especially the thermotropic stabilization of the orthorhombic lateral packing, which might reduce water loss from the skin, is considered to contribute to the moisturizing effect of IPIS and ISIS in stratum corneum.

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