NMF: Your skin’s invisible shield

Did you know that skin has an invisible layer that attracts and locks in moisture? It’s true. Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) is the name, and your skin stays hydrated, soft, and beautiful because of it. Skin self-moisturises by producing NMF, which is a combination of proteins and humectants that attract and hold onto moisture. Naturally-occurring ingredients like amino acids (such as hyaluronic acid), lactic acid, minerals, and peptides are all found in NMF, and together they help the skin to keep itself moisturised. All these skin-loving goodies are produced in the outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratus corneum.

What exactly makes NMF so magical? It helps prevent water loss by acting as a protective barrier for the skin. Not only that, it is also hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture from the air for more skin-quenching power. Beyond hydrating, it also keeps skin balanced, supple, and even regulates skin shedding (also known as desquamation). The result is healthy, radiant, balanced skin that is less susceptible to signs of ageing.

Your skin’s NMF layer needs TLC. Because it is found on the skin’s surface, it can be compromised easily. Studies show that skin with less NMF is noticeably drier than normal skin. Without a solid NMF layer to seal and protect the skin, skin becomes dry, flaky, and inflamed.

Washing too often and using harsh cleansers can deplete NMF, so don’t cleanse skin more than once or twice per day, tops. Without adequate NMF, skin is desert-dry and begging for moisture, much like your cuticles after one too many gel polish changes. When skin is dried out, signs of ageing are more obvious, especially on delicate facial skin. Dry skin is less elastic and more prone to fine lines, rough texture, flakiness, and dull complexion. To keep NMF intact, you shouldn’t cleanse excessively. It’s also a good idea to use topicals like hyaluronic or lactic acid to help reinforce the skin’s barrier.

We all like how smooth and squeaky clean skin feels after a good old-fashioned exfoliation, but don’t scrub too hard or too often! Prolonged scrubbing with harsh abrasives can disrupt the NMF layer and create micro-tears in the skin, leaving it vulnerable to infection and water loss. Instead, you’ll want to use a gentle, natural exfoliator like griffin+row’s Exfoliate to gently buff dead skin away when you need a refresher. If you suspect your NMF might be compromised, it’s a good idea to lay off exfoliating for a while until your skin has got its balance back.

So, just avoid harsh scrubbing and over-washing and you’re good, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Unfortunately, there are a few factors beyond your control that can affect skin’s NMF. Don’t fret just yet, there is something you can do about it!

The first potential problem that can deplete NMF is a dry environment. Perhaps you travel frequently or sit in a temperature-controlled office all day. Dry environments like these don’t offer an opportunity for NMF to grab moisture from the air. In this case, you should definitely make sure to use a daily moisturiser AND supplement your skin with extra moisture throughout the day. That’s one of the many reasons we love griffin+row Hydrate. It’s a travel-friendly spray that provides a refreshing burst of hydration anytime and anywhere you need it.

Another potential problem for NMF production is ageing. Unfortunately, skin’s ability to produce NMF decreases with age, leading to dry, tired skin. This creates the perfect conditions for wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin, and other tell-tale signs of ageing to develop. Mature skin should be supplemented with topical NMF serums or lotions to help reinforce it. Hyaluronic acid is a popular choice, and is easy to find in stores and online. To further counteract dry, aged skin resulting from low NMF, go the extra step with a rich night cream like this one from griffin+row.

Now that you know more about NMF, we hope you give it the loving attention it deserves so it can keep doing its job of keeping your skin lovely and hydrated!