Skin Care: Humectants - The Key to Keeping Your Skin Hydrated

Darrell Johnson

Posted on March 28 2017

Skin Care: Humectants - The Key to Keeping Your Skin Hydrated

It seems we are in a day and age where people have become more concerned and deliberate about what they consume, what they put on their skin and hair, and how knowing the different options are greatly important. In this article, we will attempt to educate you about hair and skin care as part of a multi-part series.  In this article we look at humectants, one of the two components found in every type of skin and hair moisturizer.

What is a humectant?

  • hydrate the skin by attracting water like a magnet, locking in moisture
  • form hydrogen bonds with water molecules
  • they increase the amount of water the stratum corneum - the outermost layer of the epidermis - can hold

How Humectants Work

  • they pull water from the dermis into the epidermis, and if humidity is above 70 percent, they can even draw in moisture from the air
  • they are extremely important in keeping skin soft and supple
  • they encourage desquamation, the shedding process, by wearing down the corneodesmosome that hold skin cells together
  • Humectants repair dry, cracked skin by providing maximum hydration and reducing skin irritation.
  • Act as a barrier by preventing outside chemicals from making contact with the dermis

Types of Humectants: Synthetic and Natural

  • Synthetic
    • less expensive to produce than natural humectants
    • they lock in moisture to some extent, but they don't provide any noteworthy nutrients or benefits to the skin
    • they essentially moisturize in the short-term and dry out the skin in the long-term
    • some include:
      • Butylene glycol
      • Glycerin (can be synthetic or natural)
      • Urea
      • Tremella extract
      • Sorbitol
      • Dicyanamide
      • Sodium PCA
      • Sodium lactate
  • Natural
    • they attract moisture to the surface of the skin and they deliver major moisture and nutrients to the deepest layers of the skin
    • Natural humectants improve the skin's ability hydrate itself on its own
    • some include:

Check back as we continue this series on skin and hair care products.

Photo credit: here

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