When is a beach ball really full? Of course, if it's closed. It looks similar with plump skin. Here, occlusive ingredients in skin care provide the necessary seal against moisture loss. Which ingredients have this effect and what should be taken into account? Quite a few things, because there is too much of a good thing.
Plump skin: This is the role played by occlusive skin care
Plump like baby skin – which makes it so firm
Babies have really nice, plump skin. Everything is round and soft. This is due to a wealth of collagen, elastin and moisture in the skin. And of course the baby fat, which cushions everything nicely from below. But the chubby cheeks grow together and the once firm contours sag a little as we get older. The skin can look tired and by the time the first fine lines appear, we wish we had baby skin back. The process is completely normal and cannot be completely prevented, but it can be slowed down.
Why does skin lose firmness?
The skin produces less collagen and elastin over time. She begins to lose more than she can produce. In addition, their ability to retain moisture is reduced. We have often highlighted the role that hydrophilic, i.e. water-binding, substances such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin play in our blog. But occlusive, i.e. sealing, materials are just as important. They reduce transepidermal moisture loss (TEWL), i.e. water escaping through the skin barrier. Because when the skin becomes looser, it also happens faster.
📸 On Instagram we often see +40s that look like they've just hatched. What kind of care do they use? They probably invest in that too, but sensational results usually result from digging deep into the beauty bag of tricks: soft focus, contouring and also popular: injections. So be gentle with your skin in real life. At 40, do we really have to think of you as your five-year-old’s “big sister”?! Come on …
Get plump skin
Good skin care can't do magic, but it can make a big difference. Especially if you start early and be consistent. In addition to a healthy lifestyle, it is your most sustainable remedy against skin aging . Two things are needed for plump skin: hydration & occlusion.
Provide your skin with moisture (aka water) and moisture-binding substances such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Then the skin can perform its functions better, including regeneration . That's why moisture balance is so important to slow down aging. In addition, well-moisturized skin appears plumper because it simply stores more water. That's why you immediately look fresher and more youthful after a moisturizing mask. But moisturizing alone is not enough, you also have to maintain it. This is where the occlusives come into play.
Occlusive ingredients prevent water from evaporating from the skin : keyword TEWL. Oils and waxes have this effect. They form a thin physical film on the skin through which water cannot escape or rather less quickly.
Occlusion synthetic versus natural – a huge difference
There are big differences between conventional and natural cosmetics. Conventional products rely on mineral oil-based substances such as paraffin oil, silicones or Vaseline ( petrolatum ) - this is by far the most occlusive substance in skin care. However, apart from the sealing effect, i.e. the appearance, they have absolutely no value for the skin. Instead, natural cosmetics rely on plant oils and waxes that work together with the skin. They also improve the appearance, but can do even more. Let's look at the difference.
Visible effects of occlusives
The skin is sealed by fats and water is trapped in the top layer of skin. Then something happens that you know from chia seeds: When you add water, they swell and form a plump, elastic mass. The same thing happens in the skin. Water becomes trapped and accumulates. The swelling effect makes the skin appear fuller and smoother. Small wrinkles are visually reduced.
If you provide your skin with additional moisture along with the occlusives, this effect will increase. That's why it's important to combine oil-based care with hydrosols, moisturizing serums or gels. This helps to stabilize the skin barrier and that is the be-all and end-all of healthy skin.
☝️ Vaseline increases the thickness of the top layer of skin by approximately 32% 1 . But the swelling effect is always short-term . As soon as the layer is removed again, i.e. the vaseline or silicone-containing cream is washed off, the effect disappears.
How much occlusion is good for the skin?
Well, if it makes the wrinkle disappear, then the more the better, right? Unfortunately no. A slightly occlusive effect in skin care is desired, especially for dry and mature skin. But there is also too much water in the skin. A healthy stratum corneum , i.e. the upper layer of skin, has a water content of 10-20% 2 . Strong occlusives can far exceed this value and increase the water content by up to 50% 2 – keyword Vaseline . If they are used over a long period of time, problems can arise.
If there is too much water, the skin barrier becomes destabilized and therefore more permeable. Sometimes we really notice this after swimming. The skin is soaked like a sponge, but doesn't necessarily feel good. What's more: germs like to settle in swollen skin and can trigger skin diseases 2, 3 . Therefore, occlusion must be approached carefully.
👍 Natural oils ensure a measured occlusion . They seal less strongly than mineral oils, but have a longer-lasting effect. The skin can process vegetable fats and waxes. They help repair the skin barrier so that it is less reliant on external sealing.
For which skin types is occlusion useful?
Occlusion from the outside is not equally important for everyone. Because the skin has its own effective occlusive at hand: sebum . She produces this lipid mix herself. However, the production is not always equally plentiful. Who should help and who should use fatty care sparingly?
Occlusion makes sense
- For dry skin : It produces too few lipids to protect itself.
- For mature skin : It becomes increasingly dry and loses moisture more quickly.
- In winter : The skin's own lipid production is severely limited in cold temperatures. However, lipids protect against cold and dry heated air, so this is a go for all skin types at this time of year.
Dose occlusive ingredients carefully
- For young skin: Your functions are usually all intact.
- For oily skin : It naturally produces (more than) enough sebum.
- For rosacea : Mineral oils are taboo because there is a risk of heat build-up! You should simply dose vegetable oils and natural cosmetic facial oils sparingly.
☝️ This doesn't mean that you generally have to avoid oils in care products with these skin types. But focus more on moisture with light serums or gels. We often have a good sense of what our skin needs at the moment. Your subjective feeling and observation is worth a lot here. Nothing beats trying it out!
Occlusive materials are a no go
- In perioral dermatitis : In perioral dermatitis , the horny layer is pathologically swollen and particularly susceptible to colonization by germs. Here the stratum corneum must dry out so that the disease heals!
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Occlusion and the FIVE products: What does your care routine look like?
Plump skin, as we now know, needs moisture and occlusion. We developed the FIVE facial serum to hydrate the skin. The rose water contained in the product is bound by hyaluronic acid and glycerin. It forms a hydrating film on your skin and feels light as a feather.
And now the occlusive component: Combine the FIVE facial serum with one of our oil-containing facial products.
- The FIVE facial oils have a slightly occlusive effect thanks to the plant-based squalane.
- The FIVE Shea Cream offers a little more occlusion thanks to its rich texture with shea butter - ideal for dry to very dry skin and of course in winter.
Dry and mature skin
Normal skin, oily skin and combination skin
→ Use our FIVE facial serum to hydrate your skin and top it with the FIVE facial oil – impure skin . In midsummer, if you have very oily skin, you can avoid the oil altogether. Then your skin produces particularly generous amounts of sebum.
All the best!
1 C. Choe et al.: "Stratum corneum occlusion induces water transformation towards lower bonding state: a molecular level in vivo study by confocal Raman microspectroscopy", July 21, 2020; https://doi.org/10.1111/ics.12653
2 Hongbo Zhai et al.: "Occlusion vs. skin barrier function", 2002 Feb;8(1):1-6. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0909-752x.2001.10311.x
3 "Occlusion (pharmacy)", Wikipedia; last viewed: Oct 30, 2021; https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okklusion_(Pharmacy)