NATURAL MOISTURIZING FACTOR (NMF) The lovely fluids inside the corneocyte is called our skin’s natural moisturizing factor (or NMF). When we attract water to our skin from the atmosphere or apply lotions containing water to our skin, the water dissolves these molecules and they act as humectants in our skin drawing water from the atmosphere. And the major components of this NMF is sodium lactate, urea, and pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (or sodium PCA), all great humectants.
Natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is found within the corneocytes, and makes up 20% to 30% of the dry weight of the stratum corneum. It consists of amino acids (40%), sodium PCA (12%), lactate (12%), urea (7%), ions (18.5%), sugars (like glycerol – 8.5%), and a few other things. These are water soluble humectants (meaning they draw water out of the atmosphere to our skin) that have a huge impact on the biochemical and mechanical properties of our skin. Having an adequate NMF level in our skin can prevent or reduce skin tightness, cracking, scaling, and flaking. It improves our skin’s plasticity (thanks to the interactions of the amino acids with keratin) and helps maintain skin’s barrier properties.