Humectants at a glance

Best used: AM/PM

Multiple times a day

Caution: Well tolerated Best for: Moisturiser, dry skin, normal skin
Comments: One of the building blocks of skin careMode of action: Increases epidermal water contentScience Score:


What are humectants?

Humectants are common molecules added to many cosmetic moisturizers. They act by drawing water from the environment & also the lower layers of skin. This hydrates the upper layers of skin.

What are naturally occurring humectants?

Naturally occurring humectants include lactic acid (origin of sour milk), aloe vera (plant based), honey & glycerin. In most cases preservatives are added to these products in order to increase the shelf life. For more on totally natural solutions, consult your naturopath.

What are the most common humectants found in cosmetic products?

Moisturizers usually contain a mix of humectants, emollients & occlusives. The most common humectants found in cosmetic products include-

Davin’s Tip on the use of Humectants

Don’t over think the actual ingredient list as it is complex. Humectants, occlusives & emollients can all act as moisturisers. Occlusives & emollients are generally better for true pathology, namely xerosis, atopic eczema & impared barrier function. Most moisturizers combine variations of all three. If you do have issues with some ingredients, example possible allergic reactions, specific patch testing can be conducted by medical dermatologists. An infrequent culprit is propylene glycol, a popular humectant found in many formulations.


*Disclaimer: I am a procedural dermatologist, I do not perform patch testing. For product advice & ingredient information, please consult your treating specialist.


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