[Skin hydration and hydrating products]

Ann Dermatol Venereol. 2018 May;145(5):376-384. doi: 10.1016/j.annder.2018.03.004. Epub 2018 Apr 25.
[Article in French]


One of the skin's principal functions is to protect the body against its environment by maintaining an effective epidermal barrier, not only against external factors, but also to prevent water loss from the body. Indeed, water homeostasis is vital for the normal physiological functioning of skin. Hydration levels affect not only visible microscopic parameters such as the suppleness and softness of skin, but also molecular parameters, enzyme activities and cellular signalling within the epidermis. The body is continually losing some of its water, but this phenomenon is limited and the optimal hydration gradient in skin is ensured via a set of sophisticated regulatory processes that rely on the functional and dynamic properties of the uppermost level of the skin consisting of the stratum corneum. The present article brings together data recently acquired in the fields of skin hydration and the characterisation of dehydrated or dry skin, whether through study of the regulatory processes involved or as a result of changes in the techniques used for in situ measurement, and thus in optimisation of management.

Keywords: Barrier function; Cutaneous hydration; Dry skin; Fonction barrière; Gradient hydrique; Hydratation cutanée; Hydrating products; Hydration gradient; Molecular regulation; Produits hydratants; Régulation moléculaire; Stratum corneum; Sécheresse cutanée.

MeSH terms

  • Body Water / metabolism*
  • Emollients / pharmacology*
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ointments / pharmacology*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*


  • Emollients
  • Ointments