NMF or natural moisturizing factor, an intercellular lipid, determines how our skin looks. NMF levels influence skin scaling, flaking, and tightness. The constituents of NMF include water soluble humectants like lactate, urea, sugars (glycerol) and amino acids. All of these components greatly impact the skin’s function and structure.
The degradation of hydrolyzed protein like flaggrin keeps the water balance in our skin. This critical protein protects the skin from potentially dry environments. Healthy and balanced skin will have increased flaggrin breakdown in dry environments to produce more NMF. High humidity and when the skin is protected with an occlusive, reduces the breakdown of flaggrin.
NMF components have a multifunctional role. No only do the components act as humectants, compounds that retain water, but they act to influence the integrity and pH of the stratum corneum, the top layer of the skin. Lactic acid, an NMF component, acts to enhance ceramide biosynthesis and improves the skin’s barrier mechanism. Another NMF superstar, Hyaluronic acid not only improves the plumpness of our skin by maintaining hydration and supporting structural integrity.
Glycerin, a sugar naturally found in our skin, has amazing humectant capabilities. Choosing cosmetic products that contain addition glycerin can improve, maintain or increase hydration and increase the elasticity of the skin.
Cleansing our skin removes some NMF. Carefully choosing surfactants and putting fat back into the skin can help to quickly restore damage from daily cleansing.