Natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is essential for appropriate stratum corneum hydration, barrier homeostasis, desquamation, and plasticity. It is formed from filaggrin proteolysis to small, hygroscopic molecules including amino acids. We hypothesized that common lipid extraction and soaking in water would alter the level of NMF in the upper SC and its biophysical properties. A novel method of measuring and quantifying the amino acid components of NMF is presented. Adhesive tapes were used to collect samples of the stratum corneum (SC) and were extracted with 6mM perchloric acid for analysis by reverse-phase HPLC. HPLC results were standardized to the amount of protein removed by the tapes. An increase in NMF was found with increased SC depth. Also, the combination of extraction and soaking was found to increase NMF loss relative to control or to extraction or soaking alone. Our results indicate that common skin care practices significantly influence the water binding materials in the upper SC. The findings have implications for the evaluation and formulation of skin care products.