There are two main ways in which hand cream works to moisturise your skin. One is by containing ‘occlusive agents’ that form a barrier that traps water, and the second is by including ‘humectants’ that attract more water to your skin.
So what’s in a typical hand cream?
- 80% Water
This gives the cream volume and dissolves some of the ingredients.
- 3% Glycerine
A typical humectant used to draw water from the atmosphere, attracting water to your skin.
- 5% Thickeners
These are long polymer molecules, like PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PAA (polyacrylic acid), which make the cream thicker and easier to apply to your skin.
- 2.5% Emulsifier
To make oil and water mix (and humectants dissolve in water and occlusive agents dissolve in oil) glyceryl stearate or stearic acid is used.
- 7% Fats and oils
Coconut oil, petroleum jelly or lanolin (a waxy substances secreted mostly by sheep) can be used as occlusive agents to stop water from escaping, by forming a barrier on your skin.
- 2.5% preservatives and fragrance
Because you want it to smell and nice and last for a long time…
Article based on article found in Very Interesting Junior Magazine issue #15