Skin moisturization by hydrogenated polyisobutene--quantitative and visual evaluation

J Cosmet Sci. Jan-Feb 2009;60(1):15-24.


Hydrogenated polyisobutene (HP) is used in topically applied cosmetic/personal care formulations as an emollient that leaves a pleasing skin feel when applied, and rubbed in after application. This effect, although distinguishable to the user, is difficult to define and quantify. Recognizing that some of the physical properties of HP such as film formation and wear resistance may contribute, in certain mechanisms, to skin moisturization, we designed a short-term pilot study to follow changes in skin moisturization. HP's incorporation into an o/w emulsion at 8% yielded increased viscosity and reduced emulsion droplet size as compared to the emollient ester CCT (capric/caprylic triglyceride) or a control formulation. Quantitative data indicate that application of the o/w emulsion formulation containing either HP or CCT significantly elevated skin moisture content and thus reduced transepidermal water loss (TEWL) by a maximal approximately 33% against the control formulation within 3 h and maintained this up to 6 h. Visual observation of skin treated with the HP-containing formulation showed fine texture and clear contrast as compared to the control or the CCT formulation, confirming this effect. As a result of increased hydration, skin conductivity, as measured in terms of corneometer values, was also elevated significantly by about tenfold as early as 20 min after HP or CCT application and was maintained throughout the test period. Throughout the test period the HP formulation was 5-10% more effective than the CCT formulation both in reduction of TEWL as well as in increased skin conductivity. Thus, compared to the emollient ester (CCT), HP showed a unique capability for long-lasting effect in retaining moisture and improving skin texture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkenes / administration & dosage*
  • Alkenes / chemistry
  • Cosmetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / chemistry*
  • Middle Aged


  • Alkenes
  • Cosmetics
  • Hydrogen
  • isobutylene