Hand Care on the Front Lines

How the right moisturization strategy is helping healthcare workers combat dry skin


“When you wash your hands as often as I do during the day, a cleanser that takes care of your skin makes all the difference.”

Simona, intensive care nurse and mother of two


That’s a sentiment we hear a lot these days. Frequent hand washing protects us from infections, but it takes a toll on our skin. No one knows this better than today’s frontline healthcare professionals. Flaking skin and itching is an unpleasant distraction for anyone. In healthcare settings, skin care is more important than ever. If dry skin reaches the point of cracking, open wounds can heighten the risk of infection.

An effective hand care routine can heal and prevent dry, cracked skin that comes with repeated hand sanitizing and cleansing. Let’s take a quick look at how skin moisturization works — and what to look for in your hand care products.


Learn more about betaine:

GENENCARE® OSMS Product Information


The 4 ways hand care products work

Dry skin is a condition associated to a disrupted skin barrier due to a lack of lipids (oils). This leads to increased water evaporation and lower inner moisture content of the epidermis . There are several strategies to combat dry skin, and skin care manufacturers use different active ingredients to provide various benefits. Read on to see what the claims on the labels really mean:


  • “Locks in moisture”

Locks in moisture’ means that an ingredient (like silicones or mineral oils) leaves behind a fine waterproof film on the surface of the skin to prevent the evaporation of existing moisture in your skin. The technical term for this is occlusion. It’s a short-term solution that helps stop further drying out but does little to repair and restore damaged skin.


  • “Rehydrates skin”

‘Rehydrates your skin’ means the ingredient retains moisture in the skin, a process called humectancy. Humectants are “hydrophilic” molecules that capture and retain water. They protect inner water from evaporation, allowing moisture retention in the upper living layers of the skin. Again, it’s a short-term solution — a quick win in the moisturization game.


  • "Restores your skin’s protective barrier"

‘Restores your skin’s protective barrier’ means the ingredient strengthens the skin barrier in the long term. The uppermost layer of the epidermis is made of dead cells surrounded by a mix of keratin and lipids. It is structured like a brick-and-mortar wall. A healthy barrier (or ‘solid wall’) is the body’s first line of protection. 


  • "Restores natural water balance"

‘Restores natural water balance’ means that the ingredient provides osmoprotection. That means they improve water flow within the skin layer and between cells. Moisture is drawn from the deep reservoir of the dermis up to the cells of the epidermis. Osmolytes manage this balance to protect against dehydration. 


Osmolytes are nature’s secret to manage the water balance in living cells through the process of osmosis, contributing to skin health by protecting cells from dehydration.

Watch the video below

Betaine: a natural choice for skin protection

Betaine is an osmolyte that plays a key role in fighting skin dryness by promoting healthy water balance through osmosis. Betaine also acts as a humectant and strengthens the skin barrier, too. So one single ingredient supports three of the four strategies, contributing to both short- and long-term moisturization.

At Nutrition & Biosciences, we extract our betaine naturally from sugar beets in an “upcycled” process - or taking what’s left after the sugar has been removed - for use in many of the skincare, hair care, and cosmetics products you use every day.

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Taking care of what matters

In today’s environment, healthcare workers--or anyone frequently washing and sanitizing their hands--need skin care products that work as hard as they do.

Choosing cleansers, moisturizers and hand sanitizers that contain glycine betaine is a proven strategy to help combat dry skin associated with frequent hand washing. Use these products to help protect your skin all day, every day - so you can use your hands to contiue to protect what matters most.

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For skin care formulators and manufacturers

GENENCARE® OSMS BA: the moisturizing osmolyte for skin care

The global coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we look at consumer needs in hand care. GENENCARE® OSMS BA is a sustainably sourced bioactive (INCI: betaine) extracted from a side stream of sugar production, which helps balance water in skin and within the formulation to provide moisturization, protection and sensory benefits.


Discover GENENCARE® OSMS in these exciting skin care formulations:



Powder cleanser that gently foams in contact with water.



A fun glitter jelly wash with a slimy, stringy texture.



An alcoholic gel sanitizer that provides a silky touch and prevents the drying effect.



A cream emulsion in stick form, which gently melts upon application.


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