Background/Aim: Various instruments based on electrical properties of the skin are currently used to assess the stratum corneum (SC) hydration state or water holding capacity. However, no direct relation with the quantity of water measured is provided. The objective of the present study was to calibrate the Corneometer, a device displaying electrical-capacitance-related values (which reflect the skin hydration state), and the amount and behaviour of the water taken up by the outer part of the SC during a sorption-desorption test. Methods: The experiment was performed on the ventral forearms of 20 healthy volunteers after a rest in an environmentally controlled room. Corneometer and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) values were measured at intervals over the desorption process. The areas under the TEWL-versus-time curve provided the absolute amounts of residual sorbed water. Results: The decrease kinetics of both signals after subtraction of prehydration values were very similar and bi-exponential, both showing a rapid, then a slower phase. The absolute amount of water taken up by the SC (hygroscopicity) and the two desorption rates were obtained. The Corneometer values were mono-exponentially related to the amount of water remaining within the SC. This allowed the in vivo calibration of the Corneometer in terms of absolute amount of water over the desorption range. Conclusion: The method may be used to calibrate in vivo other electrical devices aimed at assessing SC hydration during a sorption-desorption test. It may also provide new ways to measure SC water uptake and water holding capacity following application of products.

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