Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Nikitha Terence (Beauty Expert)  on 24th Nov 2020

How effective are humectants in our skincare routine? 

How effective are humectants

In our busy, fast-paced lives, we hardly have time to look at ourselves in the mirror or stop for a minute and observe ourselves. But just as it has been stated in ancient times, whatever we do now has consequences for the future. At present, the world is coping with innovations, both good and bad. We can find that a makeup product has been created almost every day to make our lives more aesthetic and wholesome!

One such wondrous product is moisturizers. Since it is one of the primarily used skincare items, it is only right if it has many other beneficial ingredients and types under or in them.

Yes, the well-known and much in demand product - humectants is a hot topic that needs more attention right now. Some of these are luckily gifted to us by mother nature, whereas others are the brilliant discoveries of experts working in the skincare industry.  

How can you define humectants and its benefits for the skin? 

Just like any other skin product, humectants have been created for a greater purpose. The primary goal of the humectants is to keep our skin well hydrated all the time. Humectants are present in moisturizers.

The stratum corneum, which is the biological term for our outer skin, is the busiest part than any other layer in our body. It often juggles protecting the skin from pollutants and retains the water content locked up under your skin cells. So, pretty much all the hydration process is managed by a well-reviewed humectant.

Hygroscopic in nature, these humectants have the strongest hydrogen bond within their structure, which is the crucial reason behind their popularity.  

Are humectants the only heir to moisturizers?

No. Studies have been conducted on the naturally developed humectants on our skin, but sometimes they might also need a helping hand. Humectants are joined by two other celebrated ingredients, namely, occlusives and emollients. Sometimes they are combined with occlusives or emollients to add up to the utmost benefit of our skin.

The occlusives have a crucial job to safeguard the acid mantle by establishing a healthy skin barrier, so it doesn't let the moisture escape, not let the toxic pollutants spoil your skin's complexion. Since they have a thick texture, it is firmly not recommended for oily skin people only to get you into more trouble. The ones who tend to develop dry skin during the winters can sync with products under this category.

The primary work of emollients is to occupy itself into the more bottomless pits that are unfilled in our skin. When left empty, they can be badly hit by external factors or too heavy products to handle. Emollients do not get entirely absorbed into our skin but remain a uniform cover-up layer that hides all the flaws. It is excellent to support the lipids that give our skin a glow. The next time you purchase emollients, make sure that you buy it according to your skin's needs and do not overdo that would disturb your skin's harmony.  

Are humectants just for dry skin?  

Since humectants are the central source of H2O for the skin, there can be a common misconception that these products are the lifelines for blessed (or cursed) peers with dry skin, but this is a total myth.

As much as it is true that water can help dry skin become a boon, humectants can only work partially. Always remember to apply some oil serum right after applying your humectant to trap the moisture well inside. Just like anyone is advised not to overdo your makeup or go overboard with your skin products, the consequences of using the humectants more than the limit can lead to even more flaky and rough skin texture.

Drinking water is beneficial not just for our skin but also for our parts' proper functioning; it is essential. But do you know about the skin's moisture reserves? It is said to be stored in the innermost layer of our skin(subcutaneous tissue). In times of trouble, like a severe case of dehydration or less humidity in the atmosphere, the water from the deepest sacks are utilized. But when this action is repeated often, then that can turn the skin into a dried-up desert.  

Power fact:

Glycerin has been proved to be the third most utilized component in all kinds of cosmetics and makeup products anywhere, according to the data gathered by the Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program of FDA in 2019.  

Is there any chance for our skin to naturally produce humectants? 

According to research done on different skin tones, it has been found that humectants are of two types: natural and synthetic.

Simultaneously, some common humectants are found on our outer skin layer by a phenomenon known as the natural moisturizing factor. This portion consists of elements like lactic acid, sugars, amino acids, which serve as a ladder for the water to travel from the deepest layer to the outer part in emergencies such as dehydration. NMF is also known to help other skin health products to get absorbed well into the skin to get its work done. That is why many makeup brands aim to create a similar replica of the NMF design. Among people with dry skin, the NMF levels are low, and this makes their skin more prone to roughness, flakiness, and it appears to be flat and biased.

Not all-natural types of humectants are readily available on the skin's surface, but it so happens that some ingredients have been utilized at just water up to our skin to the maximum. Interestingly, people on an enormous strength try to use synthetic humectants than the all-natural goods as the latter items are more expensive. With the absence of natural humectants, it is impossible to see any signs of plump and healthy skin texture.  

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The valid ingredients that sum up to glowing skin  

Many experts or makeup enthusiasts use synthetic kinds of humectants more than natural goods, as the former is less expensive and does more than just nourish our skin. So, for an excellent humectant to perform well and to fulfill all the needs kept forth by our skin, some of the natural and unnatural components are as follows: 

Hyaluronic Acid 

The superstar of every skincare product that involves hydration, hyaluronic acid individually can do wonders on our skin. Then imagine its strength when it is combined with many such superheroes? The hyaluronic acid mightiness has always been the cosmetics town's talk, for they can drastically increase the hydration level at about 1000 times.  

Aloe Vera Gel

A beautiful water-gel formula that hides all its goodness underneath its thorny green leaves. It is the ultimate powerhouse that is no match to any other skincare item when it comes to hydration.

Aloe vera is one main ingredient that tends to boost up all other companion ingredients to give out their best. It contains almost 80℅ of water, which makes it a perfect candidate for any hydrating moisturizer.  

Amazing Fact:

Also known as the lily of the desert, there are about 300 varieties of the aloe vera plant, of which only 4 of them are cultivated for health benefits.  


If you want to experience a refreshing look on your skin without the usage of heavy makeup, glycerin is the product that's meant for you. Along with occlusive usage, glycerin can draw water from the environment and restore the moisture underneath the skin layers.

According to a recent survey, a combination of hyaluronic acid and glycerin has proved to be a great skin barrier for a full 24 hours.

A natural tendency for organic products is to show little side effects on our skin. To be on the safer side, you can do a patch test and dilute glycerin with small amounts of rose water. Rosewater, as per a survey conducted in 2011, is a good antioxidant that clears up bloated skin pores. 

Did you know:

Almost 99.5% of glycerin is used in various body care products, according to a study conducted in 2014 by the Personal Care Products Council. 

The kind of products that are available in the market 

Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum
Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum
Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum
Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum

Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum

₹ 595

When to use: AM / PM

Frequency: Everyday

View details

That's a Wrap!

To recap, humectants act like magnets that attract the moisture present around us in our atmosphere and store it for our skin to make it look younger and more attractive.

This all-rounder beauty product has much more to showcase not just for the drier skin folks but also for the ones who are unhappy at the moment with their oilier texture.

It is an expert-recommended item for oily skin because the water here sometimes replaces the excessive oil and gives the skin a radiant glow.

Many products are sold by the top brands, which have a marvelous combination of a humectant and an occlusive. So this would not even require an individual to worry too much about his/her skin health because it is hydrated, and the skin is shielded well by a skin barrier.