Smooth Like Silk (but what is it doing in my skin cream?)
Have you ever wondered why us cosmetic chemist types insist on putting silk and stuff into your skin creams and hair products? I’m sure that the thought has crossed your mind once or twice but for most of us the association between silk and silky smooth soft skin/ hair says it all but is that really all there is to it?
Of course not so let’s have a look!
Silk’s wound healing properties.
Testing on non-human animals isn’t something that I condone but I just had to share this as it makes the point beautifully. In this study mutant silk from a spiders web improved the healing times of traumatised rat skin so well that it is being looked at as an option for human burns victims. Now while that sounds like something from a horror show it does demonstrate one of the key properties of silk. Silk is a natural protein fibre and protein is made from amino acids. Our skin is rich in amino acids and so adding the right type of silk to the right type of product can help to strengthen and re-build the skin or hairs structure. It’s a bit like that spray on hair or skin only a little more rudimentary.
Silk as a moisturiser.
Silk proteins and their individual amino acids are great molecular sponges that will soak up and deliver moisture into the skin. As our skin is over 70% water adequate hydration is just so important for its healthy functioning and so adding silk to a product is like giving your skin or hair a super charged drink.
Silk as a re-builder.
By the time you get down to smaller silk peptides or amino acids the molecules are small enough to be able to get through the top layers of skin and into the dermis. Whether they will or not is up to the vehicle that they travel in (the product base) but the potential is there. Once in the dermis they have been known to boost collagen production which in turn improves the look and feel of the skin making it plumper and younger looking.
Silk as a barrier.
The larger molecular silk fibres do moisturise the skin from within the top layers but in addition they add to the skins barrier function. This natural fibre makes a light-weight, breathable film on the surface of the skin affording it some protection from the elements.
Silk as an anti-inflammatory
While I haven’t been able to find any evidence to say that silk has a specific anti-inflammatory action the very fact that it moisturises, soothes and protects dry skin make it a secondary anti-inflammatory.
Silk to make you comply.
This is my favourite property as it is all about the senses. We wouldn’t be so excited about wearing our new anti-ageing moisturiser if it felt like a stratchy bail of hay would we? But how quickly would we rush to dive into a silky, smooth bath of skin goodness? The sensory properties of silk are key to its success in the skin care realm and should not be overlooked, especially if you are a maker of skin care products. People use more of something if they like it so make it good and better compliance will equal a better chance of getting optimal results and we all know that results are what keeps your customers coming back for more.