Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

What’s the NMF? April 26, 2012

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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Sometimes someone else explains something so perfectly that I figure it is better for me just to pass along what they have to say instead of trying to paraphrase it.  Case in point, Dr. Leslie Baumann’s recent post on her website about the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF):

Natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is a blend of amino acids found naturally inside our skin cells that works to hold in moisture. Your skin’s NMF level is what determines whether your skin is “Dry” or “Oily,” but it can contribute to other skin concerns as well.

Dry skin has less NMF and environmental factors such as sun exposure and low-humidity air decrease levels of NMF in every type of skin. (If you’ve ever wondered why skin gets dry and peels after a sunburn, it’s because UV exposure lowers NMF levels.) Our skin compensates for arid air by producing more NMF, but it can take time (at least 3 days) for cells to ramp up and produce more. This is why skin often flakes and cracks after its first exposure to the winter elements.

When your skin is accustomed to a humid environment, the skin produces less NMF because it gets moisture from the air it’s exposed to every day. On the other hand, if you live in an arid locale such as Arizona, your skin will naturally produce more NMF.

Like we mentioned, you skin responds to dry conditions by producing more NMF, but it takes 3 days or so. But in the meantime, your skin will look and feel dry and tight. No moisturizer or oral supplement can provide the skin with NMF or prompt production, but extra hydration can ease the dehydration until your skin has a chance to catch up.

I found this skincare information particularly helpful in explaining how one’s skin reacts to environmental conditions such as weather and humidity.  Since I live in the Chicago area where we experience harsh winters (usually – this past winter was strangely mild) and humid summers I always try to stress to my clients how the weather impacts their skin and that you need to adjust your skincare products accordingly.  I also like the fact that the above information emphasizes the fact that our skin does repair itself and self-adjusts – it just takes time.  It is always important to remember that there are no overnight or miracle solutions for skin issues.  Patience is definitely needed if you want to see a real difference in how your skin looks and feels.

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4 Responses to “What’s the NMF?”

  1. Rae Says:

    I’m a little confused with the ‘dry skin and oily skin’ classification. Most companies tend to classify most of their skin care products based on these 2 skin types.

    When you say your skin is dry it means it lacks moisture, right? and moisture = water.

    Oily skin = skin with too much oil. Many oily people may tend to have non-dry skin because the oils trap the moisture in. BUT, it can also be possible that the skin is dry and oily at the same time. Just like mine is.

    I know this comment might not make sense, but that’s just how my skin is. What’s happening to it? 😛

  2. […] Ask An Esthetician explains what the natural moisturizing factor is. […]

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