Will layering multiple skin care products still le

Will layering multiple skin care products still let the skin ‘breathe’?

Candice Gardner, Education Manager, Learning and Content at Dermalogica, provides the following expert advice:

Skin care formulations have advanced significantly with fewer products completely occlusive in nature. Layering serums and moisturisers is now standard practice to achieve multiple benefits simultaneously, and whilst it remains essential to cross check ingredient lists for obvious occlusives, many products designed to form protective films or barriers on the skin surface use modern actives or technologies that still allow oxygen to penetrate.  

That being said, there is frequent misunderstanding about skin oxygenation. Skin cannot ‘breathe’ in the way that lungs do, so this phrase or statement can be misleading.

Whilst oxygen at the skin surface is relevant in regulating the microbiome and controlling breakouts, it is of course essential, as in all tissues, for aerobic energy release for regeneration. Skin primarily receives nutrients and oxygen from the blood supply found within the dermis. However, it has been known since 1851 that atmospheric oxygen is taken up by the human epidermis.

Research has shown that when the microcirculation decreases the percutaneous uptake of oxygen increases, but not sufficiently to compensate entirely. Hypoxia (low levels of oxygen) can occur when the skin is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. Hence there may be notable changes to skin when microcirculation is impacted by age or lifestyle factors such as smoking and vaping.

A lack of oxygen diminishes the cells’ ability to regenerate and reduces cell proliferation. Without sufficient oxygen, skin lacks the energy to maintain its natural vitality, appearing dull, tired, and depleted. 

What is particularly significant is that the oxygen permeability of tissue is strongly dependent upon water content. This means that skin that is well moisturised absorbs oxygen more efficiently and effectively.​

So whilst microcirculation remains important in oxygenation of the skin, there are now other ways to accelerate skin uptake of oxygen through improved epidermal hydration and various topical actives.​

​Two botanical actives currently of interest for skin oxygenation include Ligustrum Lucidum Seed and Nasturtium Flower.

Ligustrum Lucidum Seed is extracted from a plant that grows in the high-altitude regions of Sichuan, China. It optimizes oxygenation by increasing hypoxia-inducible factor -1 alpha (HIF-1α), a protein that plays a central role in the cellular response to hypoxia, coordinating a wide range of physiological processes that include uptake of oxygen.​

Nasturtium Flower is rich in polysaccharides, zinc, copper and vitamin C, and supports cytoglobin formation for improved transportation of oxygen. Cytoglobin is related to other well-known globin proteins like haemoglobin (in red blood cells) and myoglobin (in muscles). These proteins are best known for their role in binding and transporting oxygen.​ Studies suggest that cytoglobin may also be involved in helping cells cope with low oxygen levels or high oxidative stress.​

So, whether your favourite products contain these interesting actives or use others to improve oxygen uptake and sustain skin hydration, layering skin care serums and moisturizers will support skin oxygenation rather than hinder it.