Transepidermal water loss and hydration

Posted on January 14, 2019 at 5:00 PM

 As a teenager, I suffered with acne and extreme facial dehydration from using drying skincare products.  Of course at that time I was unaware of the effect that dehydration affected the texture and epidermal barrier of my skin and its' contribution to making my acne worse.  During my teenage and young adult years, I would scrub my skin obessively with harsh buff puffs, loofahs, along with acne products that left my skin sore and uncomfortable.  Even after going to esthetic school, I still did not grasp the notion of how important it is for the complexion to be well hydrated in order for it to function properly.  I finally got it!  This is where transepidermal water loss comes into play.  The skin's barrier  and health strongly depends upon the PH and moisture level.  Not only does the skin barrier affects how we age but it also affects acne skin conditions.   Transepidermal water loss is the rate at which water evaporates from the epidermis. To be clear, transepidermal loss and sweat are to different functions.  Transepidermal loss is natural evaporation of water loss without any exertion but sweat is developed from some form of physical exertion.  There are many factors that affects that skin's barrier and contributes to transepidermal water loss such as harsh or aggressive use of skincare products, the environment, weather, stress, lack of sleep, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, drugs. However there  are ways to improve the skin barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss such as a healthy diet that includes essential fatty acids particularly omega 3 fatty acids, limit alcohol consumption and too much sugar.  It is also important to apply moisturizer to damp skin that will trap moisture in the skin to prevent transepidermal water loss.  

Transepidermal Water Loss and Acne

Yes, people with acne can suffer from transepidermal water loss.  Acne is a skin disease in which there is an over production of dead skin cells and oil  that clog pores. When sebum ( oil) become trapped in the pore, blackhead, whitehead, papules and pustules develop.  Acne usually develop during puberty; however, more and more adults especially adult women are suffering from acne.  The skin barrier is compromised of those with acne.  This can happen from using harsh products such as strong soaps, aggressive skin procedures such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, benzoyl peroxide, salcylic acid, and retinoids.  Although this modalities are beneficial in clearing acne, it is important that the skins acid mantle and hydration level be restore immediately after each procedure in order to  promote healing and to prevent transepidermal water loss.  

Ways to Improve Transepidermal Water Loss

The proper hydration of the skin surface is important in tackling acne.  Many acne sufferers believe that overly drying the skin surface will help to clear acne; however, the opposite is true.  What happens is that the skin's barrier is compromised and there is an excess of water loss on the skin leaving it more prone to irritation, infection, and slower healing.  If anyone ever receive a chemical peel procedure, the most important recommendation that doctors tell their patients is to keep their skin well moisturized in order to reduce excessive peeling and to promote faster healing.  The skin barrier of normal skin and acneic skin are completely different.  The stratum coreum of normal skin is well hydrated and less prone to transepidermal water loss.  The skin of an acne person loses more water and the more severe the acne the more water loss particularly if the acne is inflammatory which means that the affected pore is lacking oxygen. 

There are ways to prevent or reduct transepidemal water loss and improve the skin surface.


  • If using products containing salcylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinoids- be diligent in appyling a moisturizer or occulsive for skin type in order to prevent moisture loss.
  • Include fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet that contact natural water and anitoxidants that hydrate the skin from the inside out. Avocados are natural skin hydrators and trap moisture in the skin. Stay away from concentrated sugars, diet and carbonated sodas and too much alcoholic beverages.
  • Essential Fatty Acids are imperative for healthy bouncy skin. I cannot say enough about omega-3,6 fatty acids.  It can be in the form of fish oil, cod liver oil, lechitin, flaxseed, borage oil, primrose oil and of course avocado. The benefit of omega 3,6 fatty acids cannot be overstated.  A diet deficient in fatty acids results in a scaly, dehydrated skin and excessive epidermal water loss.  By supplementing the diet with the omegas will keep healthy skin cells moist and strong by improving the skin barrier by reducing water loss throught the skin and acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent not only helping to clear acne but also provide essential anti aging benefits. 
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep.  Sleep is a time for skin to heal and rejuvenate itself.  Lack of adequate amount of sleep will leave the skin looking dull and lack luster.
  • Moderate amount of excercise will increase blood flow and oxygen to skin and improve skin barrier function.
  • Reduce stress.  Stress increases cortisol level which stimuates sebaceous glands to product more oil in those acne prone individuals.

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