A good lotion for sensitive skin can be hard to come by. VMV Hypoallergenics Essence Hand and Body Smoother ($25, amazon.com) is a hypoallergenic, fragrance free, non-irritating, softening lotion that claims to repair moisture and soften parched skin with additional antioxidants.
Coconut Oil: Jack of All Trades!
Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera) has many favorable claims; it is used to moisturize skin, protect hair, and can also be used to cook dinner. Talk about multitasking! Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat; half of the saturated fats are 12-carbon variety called, lauric acid (Harvard Health Publications). In food, the high percentage of saturated fat in coconut oil gives it the ability to boost HDL levels instead of raise “bad” LDL levels.
Finding the right moisturizer can be a tedious, trial and error process; sensitive skin can be irritated by additional ingredients added to moisturizers. Coconut oil is an emollient that softens, smoothes, and is easily absorbed without having too many allergy issues (Indian Pediatrics). A double blind study with 34 patients suffering from xerosis (dry, rough, and itchy skin condition) concluded coconut oil is as effective as mineral oil in moisturizing skin (NYU Langone Medical Center).
Coconut oil has been used in medicine for wound healing and microbial infections (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology). An experiment examined burn wound healing effects of coconut oil and silver sulphadiazine found that there was significant improvement in burn wound contraction when using the combination (Indian Journal of Pharmacology).The healing process enhanced cross-linking collagen resulting in stronger tissue. Most antimicrobial agents kill bacteria and interfere with the healing process; but plants have microbial agents and also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that aid healing.
Glycerin: Humectant, Emollient, and Occlusive Agent
Glycerin or glycerol in a moisturizer is key! Glycerin is a humectant, emollient and occlusive agent pulling water up from deep in tissues, preventing water loss from the skin and smoothes the skin’s surface (Rush University Medical Center).
In a study, Georgia Regents University claimed the interaction of phospholipase D and glycerol directs maturation of skin cells by the interaction of aquaporin channels. Phospholipase D synthesizes phosphatidylglycerol, responsible to signal enzymes in cell differentiation. A study used genetically manipulated mice missing the gene for aquaporin. Glycerol could not get into phospholipase D cells, inhibiting phosphatidylglycerol and the signal that directs normal skin cell maturation. In general, aquaporins supply phospholipase D with glycerol to synthesize phosphatidylglycerol to promote keratinocyte differentiation (Journal of Investigative Dermatology). Essentially, it means your skin cells have time to mature, resulting in healthier and stronger skin.
Citric Acid: Potent Antioxidant
Citric acid is a natural antioxidant found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. It is important to note that citric acid does not contain vitamin C. it is said to enhance many beneficial antioxidants. An experiment in the Journal of UOEH studied the potent antioxidant and radical-scavenging activity of Chenpi (sun-dried tangerine) and cooperative actions of ascorbic acid and citric acid. The experiment concluded that the antioxidant activity against lipid peroxidation is associated with citric acid.
Citric Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) used to exfoliate and possibly stimulate production of collagen and elastin (University of Maryland Medical Center). The amount of exfoliation depends on the concentration of AHA, pH among other ingredients (Yale School of Medicine). Exfoliation can help even out a tan; blotchy discoloration from sun exposure. Research suggests that as skin treated with as little as 4% of AHA is susceptible to sun damage, so it’s important to wear sunscreen overtop of AHA products (University of Maryland Medical Center).
Topical application of citric acid produces results similar to glycolic acid, ammonium lactate, and retinoic acid, increasing glycosaminoglycans and epidermal thickness (Dermatologic Surgery). Glycosaminoglycans are a large part of the extracellular matrix. They regulate skin precursor cells, cell differentiation, gene expression and actions of proteins essential to skin regeneration (Journal of Molecular Medicine). A study in the Journal of the Academy of Dermatology experimented with lotions containing 25% glycolic, lactic, or citric acid. Patients treated with AHAs had a 25% increase in skin thickness and AHAs reversed epidermal and dermal markers of photoaging (Journal of the Academy of Dermatology).
Personal Use and Opinion
Like many people, I’m an avid hand washer so I am always looking for an effective moisturizing hand cream. I can say VMV Hypoallergenics Essence Hand and Body Smoother is one of my favorite moisturizers. I squeezed a pea size amount in my palm and applied to my hands. The cream quickly absorbed and my hands were left smooth. I also enjoyed the light coconut scent from the coconut oil. The moisturized feeling from the cream lasted throughout the day. The one downside is that this doesn’t contain any UV protection. Hands are one part of the body that get a lot of sun damage, so it’s very important to protect them. Be sure to layer sunscreen overtop.
VMV Hypoallergenics Essence Hand and Body Smoother is a great moisturizer for dry skin. Coconut oil is an emollient that smoothens and softens skin and glycerin is a known humectants, emollient and occlusive agent, trapping water, and attracting moisture and smoothes skin. Citric acid is an exfoliant that can aide in the production of collagen and elastin. Remember to test on a small patch of skin before fully applying. And be sure to wear sunscreen overtop!