BACKGROUND: In a recent study, we demonstrated the ability of the new confocal Raman microprobe to investigate molecular and structural human skin composition under in vivo conditions. Experiments were performed at different anatomical sites, different layers, and with intervolunteer comparison. We also carried out feasibility tests using this probe to determine depth profiles of water content within the skin. OBJECTIVE: In the present investigation we employed this confocal Raman optical microprobe to rigorously objectify the resulting hydration capacities after application of a moisturizing enhancer. METHOD: The in vivo experiments were performed on 26 healthy volunteers and measurements were undertaken on six areas of the volar forearm after a randomized application of hydrating agents. Responses were evaluated by calculating the water/protein band ratio, which determines the water content in the skin. RESULTS: Data collected with the Raman microprobe showed significant changes between baseline values of control and treated skins. Statistical analysis performed on these data revealed an increase in skin moisture after application of a glycerol-based cream, which is the most widely used hydrating agent. CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate clearly the potentials of this confocal Raman microprobe in the screening of hydrating agents or molecules under in vivo conditions. In the cosmetics field, this promising and suitable technique will undoubtedly offer new opportunities of hydration skin test evaluation.
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