When it comes to an enviably supple and smooth skin, on face and body, ultra-conditioning ingredients in a lotion-cream hybrid should be your first port of call. It’s an all purpose skincare step to help repair the skin’s barrier, increase water content, reduce trans-epidermal water loss, and restore the lipid barrier’s ability to attract, hold, and redistribute water.
But from Humectants, Emollients, Occlusives and everything in between, navigating the world of skin conditioning can be confusing. Here’s a quick guide to what they are, what they do, and how we use them.
Say Hello to HEO's: Humectants, Emollients, Occlusives
The first step to formulating a superior lotion or cream is to combine ingredients that will help to hydrate and draw moisture into skin, restore skin’s natural moisturising oils, and then seal in moisture to prevent moisture loss. The balance of these three functions is achieved with humectants, emollients, and occlusive ingredients – and to let you in on a secret: superior face care and body care products should have all three of these groups included in their formulas.
Let’s meet them…
Humectants are hydrophilic ingredients and help hydrate by drawing water to them, like sponges, and hold in the skin. Humectants also help fill in fine lines and give skin a plump, supple look. The most well-known humectant is hyaluronic acid, famous for its ability to hold 1000 times its weight in water, with other skin-friendly examples such as glycerin, honey and aloe.
Emollients are moisturising ingredients that add oil to the skin to soften, smooth, and repair the skin barrier – and as they can influence how the skin cells function – they help to combat everyday moisture-sapping environmental elements like sun, wind, and cold.
There is a plethora of emollient ingredients, including cocoa butter, squalene, triglycerides (lipids), Vitamin E, ceramides, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, to name a few.
At Saint Iris, we are fans of triglycerides (sourced from a sustainable Italian olive origin), non-comedogenic ingredient shown to have a higher skin affinity; whilst we would recommend rosehip for oilier skin types, and jojoba for dry skin.
Occlusives are generally made up of large molecules that are unable to penetrate the skin, instead they act like a protective layer for your skin. Because they repel water, occlusives actually prevent the water that’s in your skin from evaporating and escaping into the air, as well as help to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier.
Popular occlusive agents include waxes such as beeswax, oils (olive and soybean), and shea butter.
A word of caution: we would not recommend shea butter for face or body skin care, due to its highly comedogenic (pore clogging) nature, particularly for skin types prone to congestion and acne. It’s a wonderful ingredient to use in treatment of dry elbows or feet, as it helps soften and heal cracked skin.
The rise in multistep skincare routine (inspired by Korean skincare routine, or K-beauty), single ingredient products (often called mono-dose or boosters), oil-only formulation skincare, as well as a long period of lockdowns during which we’ve had time to experiment and enjoy new rituals, have collectively led to skin issues such as compromised skin’s barrier, acute dryness or oiliness, breakouts, and sensitive skin.
The solution is simpler than you think:
Discover Serenity Salve, for a ‘feel beautifully comfortable' and calm skin all day long.
There are two common types of moisturisers – lotions and creams. Lotions tend to be thinner whereas creams tend to be made with heavier lipids and are more suited for use at night.
Serenity Salve is my modern take on Adriatic’s apothecary moisturisers, with a high concentration of humectants, emulsifiers and occlusives dispersed in its formula – which is what gives it its unique texture, neither too light nor too heavy, to provide skin with a combination of hydrating and moisturising benefits for day or night time care. It is easily spreadable, dries quickly and adds moisture to the skin without clogging the pores or irritating blemish-prone skin types, and at the same time it is ideal for dry, sensitive skin.
In addition to its skin-transforming actives, the conditioning ingredients used in Serenity Salve include:
- Hyaluronic acid (Humectant)
- Glycerin (Humectant)
- PHA / Gluconolactone (Humectant)
- BHA / salicylic acid (Humectant)
- Vitamin E (Humectant)
- Olive-origin triglycerides (Emollient)
- Rosehip oil (Emollient)
- Plant seed oils including olive, borage, almond and safflower (Occlusives)
YOUR SAINT IRIS ROUTINE
Add Serenity Salve into your routine – and keep it simple!
Step 1: Thoroughly cleanse face and body, or use Purity Paste as cleansing balm (just add a splash of water and mix into creamy texture) to slough away any congestion build up of dry / flakey texture.
Step 2: Whilst skin is still damp, press in a few drops of Wake-Up Droplets skin until fully absorbed. Gentle PHA and allantoin deliver plump, glass-like skin.
Step 3: Massage and pat Serenity Salve into skin to deeply hydrate for an irresistibly touchable face and body!
Step 4: Apply your favourite Merry-Berry Plump oil if you skin needs a lipid-boost to seal in moisture, plump and leave a healthy glow.
What they say about Serenity Salve:
Kathleen Baird-Murray British Vogue, Contributing Beauty Editor:
“I love Saint Iris brand, it’s beautiful, and Serenity Salve’s nomination as The Vogue Beauty ‘Natural Phenomenon’ is so well deserved.”
Emilie Lavinia, Journalist, UN WOMEN UK envoy, IG: @emilielaviniauk:
"My selfcare line up comprise of Saint Iris, basically the nicest most ritualistic products. Taking the time to listen to a full audiobook, have a warm bath and anoint myself with soft cream full of active ingredients to heal my skin seems like a personal kindness. I love the fact Serenity Salve is plant based. It’s delightful, smells gorgeous and goes on really smooth. It’s a yes from me."