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Skin Res Technol. 2011 Feb;17(1):51-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0846.2010.00462.x. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

Appearance benefits of skin moisturization.

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Unilever Research & Development, Trumbull, CT 06611, USA.



Skin hydration is essential for skin health. Moisturized skin is generally regarded as healthy and healthy looking. It is thus speculated that there may be appearance benefits of skin moisturization. This means that there are corresponding changes in the optical properties when skin is moisturized.


The appearance of the skin is the result of light reflection, scattering and absorption at various skin layers of the stratum corneum, epidermis, dermis and beyond. The appearance benefits of skin moisturization are likely primarily due to the changes in the optical properties of the stratum corneum. We hypothesize that the major optical effect of skin moisturization is the decrease of light scattering at the skin surface, i.e., the stratum corneum. This decrease of surface scattering corresponds to an increase of light penetration into the deeper layers of the skin. An experiment was conducted to measure the corresponding change in skin spectral reflectance, the skin scattering coefficient and skin translucency with a change in skin hydration. In the experiment, skin hydration was decreased with the topical application of acetone and alcohol and increased with the topical application of known moisturizers and occlusives such as PJ.


It was found that both the skin spectral reflectance and the skin scattering coefficient increased when the skin was dehydrated and decreased when the skin was hydrated. Skin translucency increased as the skin became moisturized. The results agree with the hypothesis that there is less light scattering at the skin surface and more light penetration into the deeper skin layers when the skin is moisturized. As a result, the skin appears darker, more pinkish and more translucent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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