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How to Prevent Transepidermal Water Loss

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It’s a common misconception that to treat hyperpigmentation, you need fast-acting (sometimes harsh) ingredients. However, what you’re probably overlooking — or even sacrificing — is your skin’s moisture in the process. Board-certified dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, FAAD, says moisture and hydration are two essentials that must be discussed when treating discoloration, especially to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

TEWL measures the loss of water that evaporates from the skin. Higher levels of TEWL can predispose skin to dryness. While it may sound like a complex skin-care issue to treat, with the right moisture-based ingredients folded into your routine, you can prevent TEWL without overthinking the process. Ahead, Dr. Woolery-Lloyd breaks down how you can prevent TEWL from sabotaging your skin goals — hyperpigmentation included.

Put Moisture First

Some studies have found that Black and Brown skin can be more prone to TEWL. However, Woolery-Lloyd notes, those studies conflict and need more research. But one thing is always true: moisture is the best solution for preventing this. “Adding moisture to the skin is extremely important if you’re trying to address hyperpigmentation,” Dr. Woolery-Lloyd says. The reason for this is that many products that treat hyperpigmentation can be drying. “When I’m treating hyperpigmentation in my patients, it’s very important to me that the skin is hydrated because I do not want the active ingredients in the treatment products to cause dryness and irritation. In people with darker skin tones, irritation from skin-care products can sometimes lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”

As a solution, she recommends two types of ingredients: humectants that draw in moisture and occlusives (think: dimethicone) that lock it in. Both of these key ingredients are infused into the Clinique Moisture Surge™ 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator ($46), making it easy to give the skin both of the recommended hydrators in one product.

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Get to Know Your Humectants

“Humectants are a type of moisturizer that draws in moisture and helps to maintain hydrated skin,” Dr. Woolery-Lloyd explains. See: hyaluronic acid, an ingredient at the center of the Clinique Moisture Surge™ 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator that uses two different molecular weights of the humectant to keep skin glowing. The buzz around hyaluronic acid isn’t just fodder — it can absorb up to 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a key ingredient in TEWL prevention. Dr. Woolery-Lloyd adds it is especially helpful for people with oily or acne-prone skin, because hyaluronic acid hydrates without clogging pores.

Layer Your Actives

Actives can be an ideal addition to a routine for hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration when done right. However, if your skin is sensitive, how you add those to your routine matters, especially when involving a retinoid. “When using a retinoid (or other treatment products), you can apply the moisturizer before or after the retinoid,” she says. If you’re worried about watering down the efficacy of your product with a moisturizer, Dr. Woolery-Lloyd says, don’t: “Studies have shown that the order of application does not change the effectiveness of a retinoid, so I always tell my patients they can choose what works best for them.”

Give New Ingredients a Try

If you only use aloe to soothe sunburns during the summer, you’re not using the powerhouse ingredient to its full potential, as its soothing properties go beyond calming sunburns. In fact, it plays a hero role in the Clinique Moisture Surge™ 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, which is formulated with aloe bioferment, an ingredient derived from the aloe vera plant during a five-day, ten-step fermentation process, boasting nutrients that help skin retain moisture. “Studies showed that aloe bioferment can boost moisture in the skin by 174 percent,” Dr. Woolery-Lloyd says. “[Clinique] lab studies also showed that treatment of skin with aloe bioferment led to a statistically significant increase in type one collagen [and] after one week users of Clinique Moisture Surge™ 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator reported that the skin felt deeply hydrated, looked plump, and felt healthier.”




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