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Hydratation cutanée : tout savoir sur le facteur naturel d’hydratation (NMF)

All About the Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) And Hydrated Skin.

The skin's health and appearance depend directly on its hydration level. The natural moisturizing factor is made up of a group of biological components with hygroscopic properties, capable of capturing and retaining water within the intracorneocyte matrix. But what are these compounds? And how can we care for this NMF on a daily basis? Answers in this article.

What Exactly Is the NMF?

In the surface layer of the epidermis the Natural Moisturizing Factor (short: NMF) can be found. This group of biological compounds is responsible for maintaining hydration in the horny layer of the epidermis, the most superficial layer of the skin in direct contact with the outside environment.

The NMF represents up to 30% of the total 

dry weight of the stratum corneum. 

Around a third of the water in the 

stratum corneum is bound to NMF molecules.

In terms of composition, the NMF comprises

over 50% free amino acids and their derivatives, such as glutamine-derived carboxylic acid pyrrolidone and histidine-derived urocanic acid. Amino acids are mainly derived from the proteolysis of a single protein, filaggrin. Other NMF components include lactic acid, urea, ceramides, mineral ions (sodium PCA, potassium, magnesium) and sugars (triglycerides and saccharides). These components are derived from seborrheic secretion by the sebaceous glands.
One of the natural moisturizing factor components is hyaluronic acid, a natural complex carbohydrate that plays an essential role in wound healing. It's a powerful humectant, capable of binding more than 1000 times its weight in water. It is also the compound that gives skin structure and elasticity. It is therefore often used for its regenerative properties, particularly in the case of wrinkles or sagging skin.

What Can Affect the NMF?

Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, ichthyosis vulgaris and xerosis all lead to dry, flaky skin. In patients suffering from these conditions, NMF levels in the stratum corneum are either reduced or absent. Aging, systematic washing of the skin with soap or excessive exposure to UV rays are also known to reduce NMF levels in the superficial layers of the stratum corneum.

Consequently, replacing or replenishing the skin's supply of natural moisturizing components through the application of NMF-rich moisturizing products is a long-standing approach to caring for dry and dehydrated skin.

NMF Products for Hydrated Skin.

Today's skin care products include concentrates of the moisturizing factor components. These are generally applied after the serum to improve skin hydration.

It is also recommended to apply active ingredients present in the NMF, such as lactic acid, urea, sodium PCA… Certain active ingredients have also been shown to stimulate the production of NMF molecules, thereby achieving hydrated skin.

At Typology, we have developed a range of skin care products whose active ingredients act to “recharge” the NMF.

  • We have formulated a serum containing 10% lactic acid. Highly concentrated, it offers your skin gentle exfoliation thanks to its superficial action. By ridding the skin of dead cells, our gentle peeling serum revives the complexion's radiance and fights imperfections. The skin is left smooth and radiant. What's more, it contains acerola extract, an antioxidant that fights the free radicals responsible for dullness. Our serum is suitable for all skin types (oily, dry and combination). It is also suitable for sensitive skin because, unlike glycolic acid, it is non-irritating and penetrates less deeply. As lactic acid is a photosensitizing molecule, this serum should only be used in the evening. We strongly recommend applying a broad-spectrum sun cream the following morning.

  • As a reminder, sodium PCA is one of the main natural moisturizing factor components, accounting for 14%. Our anti-imperfection and regenerating complex with 5 minerals is a revitalizing serum that regulates sebum production and optimizes cell renewal and longevity. The hydrated skin is also firmer, more elastic and blemishes are reduced. Enriched with zinc, calcium, manganese, magnesium and sodium, apply morning and night to clean, dry skin.

  • Polyglutamic acid boosts the production of some of these molecules, including pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), lactic acid and urocanic acid. In Typology's plumping serum, red algae extract is combined with polyglutamic acid to provide skin with two-tiered hydration. Red algae extract acts deep down to boost hyaluronic acid production, while polyglutamic acid forms a protective film on the skin's surface to combat dehydration. Apply morning and night to clean, dry skin. It is particularly recommended for dry skin and/or to prevent the appearance of fine dehydration lines and the first wrinkles.

Source :

  • Marty JP, NMF et cosmétologie de l'hydratation cutanée., Laboratoire de Dermopharmacologie et Cosmétologie, Faculté de Pharmacie, Annales de dermatologie et de vénéréologie, (2002).

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