Skin moisturization is an important function of cosmetics in dermatology, and acquisition of two-dimensional information about the water content of facial skin is of great interest. Near-infrared (NIR) imaging using the water OH band centered near 1460 nm has been applied to the evaluation of water in skin. However, detection of small changes in the water content of skin water is difficult using this band because of the low absorption coefficient of water at that wavelength and inadequate optical units. We developed a high-sensitivity water imaging system using strong water bands centered near 1920 nm. This system can be used for the entire face. With the water imaging system, time-dependent changes in the water content of moisturizer-treated skin and hair were visualized with high sensitivity. In this study, we performed a water distribution analysis, with the aim of understanding the water distribution in facial skin under different environmental conditions. The water imaging system combines a diffuse illumination unit and an extended-range indium-gallium arsenide NIR camera with a detection range of 1100-2200 nm. The skin water distributions for multiple subjects with different facial shapes and sizes were compared using averaged NIR image data and a mesh partition analysis using a developed algorithm. Changes in the facial skin water content with season and humidity were visualized by the algorithm. The water content decreased in autumn, especially near the eyes and upper-cheek. Compared to other areas on the face, the water content around the eyes decreased more during an 85 min stay in a room at 10% relative humidity. The proposed method for water distribution analysis provides a powerful tool for facial skin hydration research in dermatological and cosmetics fields.
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