Background/purpose: To describe the water and ion transport through the skin under different conditions, we developed a three-component mixture model. This model has proven to describe the transient change in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) after a change in relative humidity and the result of damage to the skin. Osmotic forces arc present in the model. To assess the influence of osmotic forces on the water uptake of the skin, we investigated transient TEWL values after 1 h application of salt solutions of different molarities (0, 1, and 4 M NaCl). Methods: Filters saturated with 0, 1, and 4 M NaCl solution were applied for 1 h under occlusion. TEWL was measured 50–90 min after removal of the solution. The transient water loss curves were fit with an exponential function. The area under the fitted curve was calculated and regarded as a measure for the amount of extra water absorbed in the skin. Results: For all molarities, TEWL is increased immediately after removal of the solution. In time, this increase decays until pre-application values are reached again. The rate of decrease differs significantly for all three molarities. Ninety-five per cent of the increase has been reversed after 30, 19, and 6 min for the 0, 1, and 4 M case, respectively. The amount of water absorbed differs significantly between the three molarities 7.3±2.0; 3.9±1.0; 2.0±0.5 g/m2, respectively. Conclusions: In all cases, there was an increase in TEWL immediately after removal of the solution. The significant differences in decay time and amount of water absorbed between the three molarities indicate that osmotic forces do play an important role in the water uptake.