[NMF and cosmetology of cutaneous hydration]

Ann Dermatol Venereol. 2002 Jan;129(1 Pt 2):131-6.
[Article in French]


In the stratum corneum, the water binds to the intracellular hygroscopic and hydrosoluble substances called "natural moisturizing factors" or NMF. These "natural moisturizing factors" contained in the corneocytes are formed during epidermal differentiation and may represent up to 10 p. cent of the corneocyte mass. They are principally amino acids, carboxylic pyrrolidone acid, lactic acid, urea, glucose and mineral ions. Keratinization plays an important part in the formation of NMF that exhibit strong osmotic potential attracting the water molecules. The binding of water to NMF is the static aspect of cutaneous hydration. The second, dynamic, aspect is related to the selective permeability of the stratum corneum and to its lipid barrier properties, the permeability of which depends on the integrity and nature of the inter-corneocyte lipids and their lamellar organization between the cells. In these conditions, hydration cosmetics rely on two concepts that can be isolated or associated: the supply of hydrophilic substances to the stratum corneum, capable of attracting and retaining water (moisturizer) or capable of restoring the barrier in order to restore normal water loss or of protecting it against aggression (occlusive).

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Body Water / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Cosmetics
  • Dehydration / drug therapy*
  • Dehydration / physiopathology
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Emollients / administration & dosage
  • Epidermis / chemistry
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Membrane Lipids / physiology
  • Skin Care / methods*
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology
  • Surface-Active Agents / administration & dosage


  • Cosmetics
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Emollients
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Surface-Active Agents