One of the primary elements in keeping skin feeling and looking healthier is making sure the outer layer of skin is intact. The components that do this are often called natural moisturizing factor (NMF) or ingredients that mimic the substances found in healthy skin. While the oil and fat components of skin prevent evaporation and provide lubrication to the surface, it is actually the skin’s lipid content that gives skin a good deal of its surface texture and feel.
NMFs make up an expansive group of ingredients that include amino acids, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, cholesterol, fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, urea, linoleic acid, glycosaminoglycans, glycerin, mucopolysaccharide, and sodium PCA (pyrrolidone carboxylic acid). Ingredients that moisturize similarily to the lipid content of skin include apricot oil, canola oil, coconut oil, corn oil, jojoba oil, jojoba wax, lanolin, lecithin, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, shea butter, soybean oil, squalane, and sweet almond oil, all of which can be extremely helpful in making dry skin look and feel better.
Using moisturizers of any kind that contain NMFs (whether they are labeled as anti-aging, antiwrinkle, serums, lotions, or sunscreens) allows your skin to do its job of restoring and replenishing itself without the impedances brought on when skin is suffering from dryness.
References for this information:
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, September–October 2004, pages 207–213
Progressive Lipid Research, January 2003, pages 1–36
Journal of Lipid Research, May 2002, pages 794–804
Clinical Geriatric Medicine, February 2002, pages 103–120
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, November 2002, pages 587–594
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, May 1996, pages 1096–1101
British Journal of Dermatology, November 1995, pages 679–685