TEWL, Closed-Chamber Methods: AquaFlux and VapoMeter

  • Bob ImhofEmail author
  • Perry Xiao
  • Irena Angelova-Fischer


TransEpidermal water loss (TEWL) is recognised as the main indicator of skin barrier function. Since the 1970s, the open-chamber method of measurement has established itself as the main method for TEWL measurement and a de facto standard against which newer technologies are judged. However, the open-chamber method is known to suffer from a number of limitations, the main one being disturbance by ambient air movements. This limitation can be overcome by closing the measurement chamber, but this design change affects other aspects of the measurement.

Closed-chamber instruments bring a new dimension to TEWL measurement, because their immunity to disturbance by external air movements makes it possible for such measurements to migrate away from the well-controlled laboratory environment into the workplace or clinic. This and other aspects of their design liberate them from many of the restrictions and precautions recommended in the now outdated TEWL guidelines.

This chapter describes two commercial closed-chamber instruments, the AquaFlux and the VapoMeter, whose characteristics are discussed within the context of the established open-chamber method. These instruments differ in measurement principle, concept and design. The AquaFlux, which uses the condenser-chamber method of measurement, is a benchtop, mains-powered instrument. The VapoMeter, which uses the unventilated-chamber method of measurement, is a self-contained, battery-powered instrument. Their performance characteristics are also quite different, with accuracy, sensitivity and repeatability the main features of the AquaFlux and speed and mobility the main features of the VapoMeter.


Measurement Chamber Water Vapour Flux Skin Barrier Function Sweat Gland Activity TEWL Measurement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Markus Steiner of Aberdeen University, Scotland, for providing the raw Tewameter-VapoMeter comparison data used in Fig. 31.3 and Jouni Nuutinen of Delfin Technologies Ltd, Finland, for providing unpublished VapoMeter angular response data.


  1. 1.
    Nilsson GE (1977) Measurement of water exchange through skin. Med Biol Comput 15:209–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Imhof RE, Berg EP, Chilcott RP, Ciortea LI, Pascut FC (2002) New instrument for measuring water vapour flux density from arbitrary surfaces. IFSCC Mag 5(4):297–301Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Imhof RE, De Jesus MEP, Xiao P, Ciortea LI, Berg EP (2009) Closed-chamber transepidermal water loss measurement: microclimate, calibration and performance. Int J Cosmet Sci 31:97–118PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wallihan EF (1964) Modification and use of an electric hygrometer for estimating relative stomatal apertures. Plant Physiol 39:86–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Miller DL, Brown AM, Artz EJ (1981) Indirect measures of transepidermal water loss. In: Marks R, Payne PA (eds) Bioengineering and the skin. MTP Press, Lancaster, pp 161–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tagami H, Kobayashi H, Kikuchi K (2002) A portable device using a closed chamber system for measuring transepidermal water loss: comparison with the conventional method. Skin Res Technol 8:7–12PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nuutinen J, Alanen E, Autio P, Lahtinen M, Harvima I, Lahtinen T (2003) A closed unventilated chamber for the measurement of transepidermal water loss. Skin Res Technol 9:85–89PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    De Paepe K, Houben E, Adam R, Wiesemann F, Rogiers V (2005) Validation of the VapoMeter, a closed unventilated chamber system to assess transepidermal water loss vs. the open chamber Tewameter. Skin Res Technol 11:61–69PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Farahmand S, Tien L, Hui X, Maibach HI (2009) Measuring transepidermal water loss: a comparative in vivo study of condenser-chamber, unventilated-chamber and open-chamber systems. Skin Res Technol 15(4):392–398PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Elkeeb R, Hui X, Chan H, Tian L, Maibach HI (2010) Correlation of transepidermal water loss with skin barrier properties in vitro: comparison of three evaporimeters. Skin Res Technol 16(1):9–15PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Steiner M, Aikman-Green S, Prescott GJ, Dick FD (2011) Side-by-side comparison of an open-chamber (TM 300) and a closed-chamber (Vapometer (TM)) transepidermal water loss meter. Skin Res Technol 17:366–372PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Shah JH, Zhai H, Maibach HI (2005) Comparative evaporimetry in man. Skin Res Technol 11:205–208PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Angelova-Fischer I, Fischer TW, Zillikens D (2009) Die Kondensator-Kammer-Methode zur nicht-invasiven Beurteilung von irritativen Hautschäden und deren Regeneration: eine Pilotstudie. Derm Beruf Umwelt 57(3):125Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bland JM, Altman DG (1986) Statistical methods for assessing agreement between two methods of clinical measurement. Lancet 1:307–310PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Imhof RE, Xiao P, Berg EP, Ciortea LI (2005) Rapid measurement of TEWL with a condenser-chamber instrument. In: 15th international meeting of the ISBS and 2nd ioint international meeting of ISBS and ISSI, Philadelphia, 2005, pp 1–7. Available from:
  16. 16.
    Pinnagoda J, Tupker RA, Agner J, Serup J (1990) Guidelines for transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurement. A report from the Standardization Group of the European Society of Contact Dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis 22:164–178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rogiers V (2001) EEMCO guidance for the assessment of transepidermal water loss in cosmetic sciences. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 14:117–128PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Du Plessis J, Stefaniak A, Eloff F, John S, Agner T, Chou T-C et al (2013) International guidelines for the in vivo assessment of skin properties in non-clinical settings: part 2. Transepidermal water loss and skin hydration. Skin Res Technol 19(3):265–278Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Barel AO, Clarys P (1995) Comparison of methods for measurement of transepidermal water loss. In: Serup J, Jemec GBE (eds) Handbook of non-invasive methods and the skin. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 179–184Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Cohen JC, Hartman DG, Garofalo MJ, Basehoar A, Raynor B, Ashbrenner E et al (2009) Comparison of closed chamber and open chamber evaporimetry. Skin Res Technol 15:51–54PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bob Imhof
    • 1
    Email author
  • Perry Xiao
    • 2
    • 1
  • Irena Angelova-Fischer
    • 3
  1. 1.Biox Systems LtdLondonUK
  2. 2.Faculty of ESBELondon South Bank UniversityLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of DermatologyUniversity of LübeckLübeckGermany

Personalised recommendations