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Benefits of Humectants: A Helpful List of Skin Care Secrets

Benefits of Humectants: Our Quick List of Secrets
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There are many benefits of humectants, in this article we will go over the basic untold truths of humectants and what they do for your skin.

Benefits of Humectants: Our Quick List of Secrets
Benefits of Humectants: Our Quick List of Secrets

Are the dry winters causing your skin to feel dehydrated and appear flaky? Do you feel your skin looks dull and dry? Well, humectants can help. They add moisture to your skin to make it feel soft, supple and healthy.

Here is all you need to know about humectants and what they can do for your skin.

See also: What is Glycerin? The All Natural Skin Saving Ingredient

Benefits of Humectants: Key Points

  • Humectants keep our skin soft and moisturized when it’s dry.
  • Aloe vera is a good example of a humectant that we find in nature.
  • Lotions and soaps that use these are very good for moisturizing skin.
  • Humectants help keep skin healthy and retain it’s youthful elasticity.

What Is A Humectant?

A humectant is a hygroscopic substance. This means that it possesses the ability to attract moisture from the environment and add it onto another substance to keep it hydrated and moist. Humectants may be used in skin or hair care products and food additives. They are also used in various other sectors to keep substances moist.

Humectants in skin care comprise ingredients that attract moisture from the deeper layers of your skin and the environment to soften it. They help to keep the skin lubricated. They work similarly for hair care products, by drawing and retaining moisture.

Benefits of Humectants: How Does A Humectant Work?

Humectants tend to form hydrogen bonds with water. This additionally contributes to moisturized and soft skin. They work by:

  1. Attracting moisture from the environment onto the surface of your skin.
  2. They also tend to pull moisture from the second layer (dermis) of your skin, keeping its top layer (epidermis) moisturized.
  3. The epidermis is made up of dry and dead skin cells that make it appear dull and flaky. Also humectant works by reducing the appearance of dry skin.
  4. While there are various humectants used to address dry skin and hair concerns, each of them work differently.
  5. Even though all humectants are used to eventually moisturize the top layer of your skin and reduce frizzy hair, they are used in different strengths to specifically cater to your skin and hair type.

Benefits of Humectants: What Are The Types Of Humectants?

In the first place, humectants come in various types to address different concerns. This makes them popular in both skin and hair care and the food industry.

Humectants In Skin Care
Humectants are popularly used in the skin care industry, in moisturizers and lotions. They are basically used to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated. They also prevent your skin from experiencing flakiness.

See also: Olive Oil Soap – The Many Benefits and How To Make It!

Benefits of Humectants: Glycerin

A naturally occurring liquid, glycerin acts as a moisturizing agent in most of your skincare products, especially moisturizers. It traps the moisture into your skin, keeping it hydrated.

Interested in learning more about Glycerin? check out our article: What is Glycerin? The All Natural Skin Saving Ingredient

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in our skin. However, as we age, various external factors like skin exposure to UV rays may contribute to a reduction of hyaluronic acid. It contains water preserving properties that keeps our skin healthy and soft.

Of course, hyaluronic acid may be used in skin care products to increase moisture in epidermis and improve skin barrier and water preserving functions.


Urea is usually recommended for very dry skin. However, it is not suggested to be used for cracked skin. Equally important make sure to your doctor about using it as a prescription strength topical medicine.

Benefits of Humectants: Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol acts as a humectant and is used in several skincare products. Primarily, it traps water and pulls in hydration to the outer layer of your skin. It has moisturizing properties that keeps your skin soft and smooth. Due to its humectant property, it is also considered to be a beneficial ingredient for aged and dry skin.

Sodium PCA

As a humectant that naturally occurs in your skin, Sodium PCA hydration of your skin besides protecting your skin barrier. It has anti aging properties too.


As a natural humectant, Zemea is used in a variety of skincare products like moisturizers, sunscreens, anti acne products, cleansers, etc.


Aquaxyl is known to do wonders in boosting your skin’s hydration flow. Not to mention, it strengthens your skin barrier too.

See Also: Cold Process Soap: Best Benefits of Making Soap at Home

Lactic Acid

As an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), lactic acid is also a humectant that has the ability to draw moisture into your skin’s deep layers.

Mandelic Acid

Gentle on skin, Mandelic acid (an AHA), acts as a humectant. Furthermore it is used to treat various skin concerns.

Benefits of Humectants In The Food industry

Humectants are also used in the food industry, to prevent various edibles from drying out. These are additionally used for their ability to attract moisture onto a food product.

These humectants are commonly present to keep food items moist:


Sugar helps to prevent premature spoilage by pulling water onto the surface of a product.

Besides, sugar is in many of your skincare products. As a humectant, sugar also keeps your skin hydrated and soft.


Honey is a natural humectant that is commonly present in food items to keep them moist. It is also a great option as it refrains from spoiling the texture of the product.

Also in skincare, honey is a great moisturizing agent. Moreover, it reduces formation of wrinkles. Also it is present in sunscreen products that helps to smooth your skin.

Here at capulet soaps we have a Milk Oats and Honey soap bar!


Polyols are a family of colorless and odorless compounds that work as well as thickening agents. They work like humectants and may also be a substitute for sugar. Examples are maltitol, erythritol, glycerin and sorbitol.

Polyols are also in skincare products like creams, lotions, make up, etc. It helps to maintain your skin’s elasticity and moisture.

Benefits of Humectants: What Are The Best Natural Humectants For Skin?


Aloe vera is a wonder ingredient that works to treat almost any skin issue, like pimples, dry skin and dehydration. It also aids in skin hydration and moisture retention. Research suggests that aloe vera may be effective in soothing dry skin due to its humectant like mechanism.

Capulet soaps uses aloe in our Lavender Aloe bar!

See also: Aloe Vera Benefits: We Look at The Best Ones


Honey is a great ingredient that is popularly important to address dry skin concerns. It is also in skincare products that offer deep hydration. It works as an effective humectant and emollient when applied to the skin. Additionally it is rich in vitamins and enzymes that contribute to soft and healthy skin.


You can derive Glycerin from natural or artificial sources, naturally from plant based oils. Also research shows that glycerin works as an effective humectant that lubricates and adds softness to the skin. Glycerin is in skincare products and works as a skin conditioner that improves texture. It is widely present in hair care products to reduce frizziness.

Also laboratories, say “Glycerin is a great humectant that keeps your skin hydrated for a long duration. It is also derived from plant sources.”

See Also: What is Glycerin? The All Natural Skin Saving Ingredient

AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)

In the case of AHA, you may derive Alpha Hydroxy Acids from fruits. They are prevalently in anti aging products. AHAs are also great exfoliators that help to remove dead skin cells and allow other ingredients to seep through your skin without any obstruction.

Alpha hydroxys are usually encouraging in 10 or 15 per cent concentrations. AHAs are also going to improve skin barrier functions by increasing the amount of ceramides in the skin.


If you have sensitive skin, consider applying a little bit of alpha hydroxy acid. You may incorporate the same in larger quantities eventually as your skin adjusts to it.

What are the Benefits of Humectants for Skin?

The various benefits of humectants are as follows


The main and most prominent benefit of a humectant is hydration. Humectants work by keeping your skin moisturized, soft and hydrated throughout the day. Humectants attract moisture from the environment onto the surface of your skin to do so.

See also: Bar Soap vs Body Wash: Which is the Better One for You?

Prevents Dry and flaky skin

Certain internal and external factors, however, may contribute to skin irritation, flakiness and dryness. Humectants keep the skin soft and hydrated, preventing itchiness and flaky skin.


Humectants also work by exfoliating your skin. This allows for other ingredients to seep through its layers and do their work without any obstruction.

Benefits of Humectants: How Should You Use Humectants?

There is a certain way of applying a moisturizing agent to the skin. In order to reap its benefits, keep in mind to follow these guidelines listed by the National Eczema Association.

  1. Take a generous amount of your moisturizing lotion or humectant and apply right after you’re out of the shower.
  2. If you are using any topical medicine, apply it before the moisturizer.
  3. Always rub in a part of your moisturizer on your hands before applying it somewhere else to your skin.
  4. Make sure that you leave a layer of moisturizer on your skin and allow it to absorb the same.

What Is The Difference Between A Humectant, Emollient And An Occlusive?

For prolonging results, humectants is better in a combination with emollients and occlusives.

Emollients are also moisturizing substances that are mainly lipids. They soothe the skin. They work by filling in patches of dry skin and adding moisture, thereby improving texture and making your skin smooth and soft. Emollients are usually the main ingredients that add softness to the skin.

Occlusives include a number of plant butters and waxes, that lock in moisture. They form a layer on the surface of your skin that seals in moisture. So while humectants attract water, occlusives keep the water intact.

Benefits of Humectants : Factors Humectant Emollient Occlusive

How do they work? Attract moisture from the environment onto the surface of your skin to keep it hydrated. They work like fillers and make the skin smoother and softer. They form a layer on top of your skin to seal in water.
How do they feel? Sometimes they may feel sticky. Sometimes they may feel heavy or greasy. May feel a bit heavy.
Side effects Some of them may cause skin irritation. Don’t usually have any side effects. May contribute to acne since they may clog pores.
Examples Glycerin, AHAs, some BHAs, aloe vera. Fatty acids, ceramides. Mineral oils, silicones.

Important Note: Look for a moisturizer that contains humectants, emollients and occlusives. Avoid using a moisturizer with a large amount of occlusives if you have greasy skin.

Benefits of Humectant: What Are The Side Effects Of A Humectant?

The question of whether humectants can be bad for the skin, is a debatable one. However, researchers do believe that humectants may be harmful for the deeper layers of your skin as they draw water from there as well.

If you are in a dry environment, humectants will most likely draw water from your skin itself. This may be harmful to the skin in the long run.

How do they work?Attract moisture from the environment onto the surface of your skin to keep it hydrated.They work like fillers and make the skin smoother and softer.They form a layer on top of your skin to seal in water.
How do they feel?Sometimes they may feel sticky.Sometimes they may feel heavy or greasy.May feel a bit heavy.
Side EffectsSome of them may cause skin irritation.Don’t usually have any side effects.May contribute to acne since they may clog pores.
ExamplesGlycerin, AHAs, some BHAs, aloe vera.Fatty acids, ceramides.Mineral oils, silicones.
Side Effects of Humectants

See Also: Your Skin Microbiome: How To Give Yourself Glowing Skin

Wrapping Up the Benefits of Humectants

Humectants are a group of ingredients that attract water onto your skin from its deeper layers and the environment. These are popularly in skincare, haircare and the food industries to keep the moisture intact. The base of these are often emollients that add softness and by occlusives that seal in moisture. Before you opt for a humectant, choose one that suits your skin type. Checking with a dermatologist can help, if you have sensitive skin.

Benefits of Humectants: Key Takeaways

  • Humectants keep our skin soft and moisturized when it’s dry.
  • Aloe vera is a good example of a humectant that we find in nature.
  • Lotions and soaps that use humectants are very moisturizing.
  • Humectants help keep skin healthy and retain it’s youthful elasticity.

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