What is Transepidermal Water Loss?

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I teach holistic beauty practices of the mind-body-spirit connection to nourish skin from the inside out. 

Hi, I'm Jen

Understanding how trans-epidermal water loss impacts the skin can help us in cultivating skin hydration from the start through our skin rituals. With so much popularity around facial oils for skin health, and with good reason as they are nourishing, nutritive and moisturizing for skin, we also want to understand hydration with just as much of an importance for a healthy complexion. Hydration and moisture are two separate and complimenting components for healthy skin. With that being said, lets dive into skin hydration and trans-epidermal water loss below.

Transepidermal Water Loss

Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is the amount of water that passively evaporates through skin from the dermis to epidermis. This can happen for a few different reasons including environmental factors such as cold and dry environments, harsh products (squeaky clean cleansers, drying toners, over exfoliation) and using too much water on the skin without following with humectant and occlusive products. When water evaporates from the skin, it can pull hydration with it.

A familiar way to explain this is licking the lips when they feel dry and then what happens, they end up feeling more dry since the once the “lick” evaporates, it has pulled water content from the skin with it during the evaporation process. Anytime we expose the skin to water through cleansing or even just splashing water on the skin, TEWL may occur.

Hydration and Moisturization is a Multi-Step Process

A concern I would hear from clients is that they are using a rich balm or oil, yet their skin still feels dry. This can occur in some instances because skin must first be hydrated (water component) in order to receive moisture (oil and fat component). If the skin is dehydrated, moisturizing products may have a challenging time penetrating into the skin due to the stiffness and stagnation that occurs with dehydration. I like to compare this to applying soap to a sponge. Apply soap to a dry sponge, it sits on top. Apply soap to a damp sponge, it penetrates through.

If you experience chronic feelings of dehydration, tightness and dryness, especially if you are using rich oils and balms, keep reading for my top 3 tips below on how to avoid trans-epidermal water loss and increase skin hydration for a supple and glowing complexion.

Use Less Water

The first way we can avoid transepidermal water loss without adding in additional products is to use less water to cleanse the skin. You can even aim for oil cleansing with no water, this can be ideal for AM routines as long as you went to bed with clean skin. Apply oil cleanser directly to dry skin, cleanse and follow with removal of oil with a soft, dry cloth. For PM routines, you can apply oil to dry skin to cleanse, and then remove with a damp cloth if needed to remove make-up and spf. If you are new to oil cleansing or need a refresh on the process, check out my oil cleansing tutorial.

In both instances, apply oil to dry skin and do not splash the face with water first. Over all, the less water applied to the skin, the less chance of dehydration through trans-epidermal water loss. Especially if you are dealing w extremely dry/dehydrated or sensitized skin or a dry or cold climate, definitely opt for less water use on the skin during the cleansing process.

Products to Avoid for Transepidermal Water Loss

Second way to avoid transepidermal water loss and increase skin hydration is to avoid squeaky clean cleansers, over exfoliation or drying/astringent ingredients. Avoiding these types of products and habits are ideal for so many aspects of skin health, a healthy skin barrier and they can be the number one culprit of dehydrated skin.

Products to Increase Skin Hydration

Ideally, cleanse the skin however applies to your needs and immediately follow with a water based and properly formulated occlusive toner, then layer on a water based serum if applicable and finish with your facial oil, balm or moisturizer application to seal everything in.

If you are ready to go deeper into your selfcare practices and embody holistic beauty through a mind, body and spirit approach for the ultimate skin and lifestyle transformation, be sure to join me inside Radiant Beauty Collective. I can’t wait to see you there!

With Love,
Jen xx

Oil Cleansing Method

Oil cleansing is a beneficial choice for both AM and PM cleansing rituals. I’ve added a focus on lymphatic movement and awakening the skin tissue in general.


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