The skin is the largest organ in the body. There are three layers of the skin. They are called the epidermis (the outermost layer), the dermis and the hypodermis. Exposing the skin to various elements can cause the natural balance of water to be disrupted. Depending on the temperature outside, the skin can lose its moisture causing it to dry out. This is commonly referred to as trans-epidermal water loss or TEWL. This means that there is internal water loss causing dry skin. TEWL can also occur due to the use of harsh cleansing skin care products.
When faced with the prospect of dry skin, moisturizing products are often used to nourish the skin. Exploring how lotion works requires an examination of its effects on the skin. A moisturizer tends to focus on the topmost layer of the skin. Here, it keeps moisture from evaporating. Moisturizer provides the skin with water that will reach the cell membranes helping them stay plump and well hydrated. This is why most moisturizers include water along with oil, wax and grease to prevent the water from leaving the skin.
Types of Moisturizers
In terms of how lotion works on various skin types, learning the different types of moisturizers on the market can help provide a better idea of what to use on sensitive skin or dry skin.
- Occlusives – An occlusive is also referred to as an old school moisturizer. It is designed to form a barrier over the layers of the skin to trap water preventing evaporation. Although occlusive moisturizers are useful in fighting dry skin, they tend to be a bit sticky, greasy and messy when applied.
- Humectants – This moisturizer is designed to attract moisture from the air and keep it in the skin. Humectants easily penetrate deep into the top layer of the skin attracting more water. This type of moisturizer includes hydroxyl groups which seek water. Applying this lotion on the skin causes the body to produce more ceramides.
- Emollients – Emollients are often chosen over other moisturizers because they tend to be less sticky. Creams, gels, lotions and ointments fall under this category. Compared to occlusives that simply coat the skin, emollients do a better job of penetrating the skin to make it soft and even flexible. 
Moisturizer Versus Lotion
The word, “moisturizer”, is a broad term describing products put on the skin that promote lubrication and comfort. There is not really a difference between moisturizers and lotions. They are located in different parts of the spectrum. A moisturizer can range from water to petroleum jelly. On one end, there is water, and the other end is petroleum jelly. Everything in between, such as lotion, cream or an ointment, is a combination of the two.
Always consider that these products have the ability to produce bacteria. Most creams and lotions have preservatives to keep them in good condition. However, preservatives tend to smell, so fragrances are often included in the mix.
Choosing which lotion or moisturizer to use depends on the skin type and the time of the year. Creams and lotions are ideal for providing skin added hydration, but those with sensitive skin, such as in the case of babies, should be especially careful with products. Avoid moisturizers that contain fragrances, preservatives and penetration enhancers as a baby’s skin can easily absorb dangerous chemicals.
Moisturizer for a Baby’s Sensitive Skin
One in five babies may suffer from some form of skin condition such as eczema. Eczema can transform an infant’s skin from being smooth and soft to dry, red, itchy and cracked. Also referred to as atopic dermatitis, this condition may appear at birth, but it typically presents during the second or third month of life. When it appears, most parents look for a way to alleviate dry skin by applying cream and skin lotion to address the issue. However, certain products may cause further dry skin irritation.
Since the goal for treating a baby’s dry skin is to get the skin moisturized, avoid choosing just any skin lotion. Many moisturizers contain ingredients such as petrolatum, cetyl alcohol, parabens and cetearyl alcohol that can be dangerous.
Choosing an organic baby lotion can soothe eczema flare-ups compared to applying regular lotion filled with harsh ingredients. Organic products tend to include less chemical content. These types of lotions often have essential oils such as lavender and chamomile which are known for their soothing properties that fight inflammation.
Benefits of Organic Lotion
Organic baby lotion has a number of benefits.
- It protects sensitive skin. Since a baby’s skin absorbs and loses moisture quickly, a lotion that locks in the water and moisture is necessary. Organic lotions and powders usually come with herbal extracts that are talc free. Coconut oil, olive oil and almond oil are perfectly safe for a baby’s sensitive skin.
- It can be used by parents. Another plus to using organic baby lotion is that this product can be used by adults as well. Organic lotion is made for a baby’s sensitive skin and other skin types as well.
- It is free from harsh chemicals. The list of ingredients on these products will not include the usual chemicals like parabens or phthalates. Instead, more essential oils, natural glycerin, water and other natural oils are present that will not trigger negative reactions. Some organic manufacturers even provide information as to where these natural ingredients are sourced.
- It treats dry skin. Organic baby lotion restores the natural smoothness of a little one’s skin with its nourishing properties. A baby’s skin is especially sensitive during the first few months. This is the time an organic baby lotion is essential because it soothes the skin and locks in moisture.
- There is less grease. Another benefit to using organic baby lotion is that it does not leave a greasy residue on the skin. This prevents a baby’s pores from being clogged avoiding skin irritation and other skin issues.
- There is no fragrance. Most parents want their babies to smell nice all the time, but applying a sweet-smelling lotion to a baby’s skin is not a good idea. An added fragrance may be too strong for a baby’s sensitive skin. Organic baby lotion tends to be free from artificial fragrance, so you can easily lather it on a baby’s dry skin to deliver moisture minus any side effects.
- It has soothing effects. Soothing organic baby lotions treat skin conditions like eczema. The natural ingredients including essential oils, water and natural oils like coconut oil and almond oil are applied to the affected areas treating the inflamed and irritated skin.
A Last Word About Organic Baby Lotion
With so many lotions, creams and ointments being sold today, it is hard to decide what to get. Understanding how lotion works may help you figure out which product is right for your little one’s needs. Consider the fragility of a baby’s skin, the weather and any allergens that will be exacerbated with the use of regular lotions.
With the current demand for organic baby lotion, there are many moisturizing options that are appropriate for little ones. Make sure that the ingredients do not include any difficult sounding names as this often means that they contain chemical components. If unsure, consult a dermatologist for recommendations.