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Humectants Skin Benefits, Side Effects, Best Products & More

By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024

Are you prepared to discover the key to having supple, well-hydrated skin that glows with youth? 

Welcome to humectants, the hidden heroes of the cosmetics industry! 

In this article, we’ll go deeply into the world of humectants—those miraculous substances that can completely change how hydrated your skin is. 

So please take a seat and get ready to learn about the wonderful advantages they provide.

What Is a Humectant?

Let’s start with the fundamentals and define what a humectant is. Imagine your skin as a helpful sponge. Like that sponge, humectants work nonstop to draw in and hold moisture to moisturize your skin. 

Some humectants are derived from sources such as honey and aloe vera. Other products are synthesized from other sources to make glycerin and propylene glycol.

Various skincare and hair treatments that offer the gift of moisture include these little miracles. However, they do much more than merely relieve your skin’s needs.

Benefits of Humectants 

Hydration: The main advantage of humectants is their capacity to attract moisture to the skin’s surface, keeping it moisturized and plump. They resemble the individual water magnets on your skin.

Preservation Power: Humectants hydrate, but they also can maintain the qualities of the items they are in. It indicates that your skincare is still strong and efficient, offering you the best value for your money.

Locking in Moisture: Humectants are the best sealants for sealing in moisture. Together they help patch holes in your skin’s barrier, keeping moisture in and the outside world out.

Gentle Exfoliation: Some humectants, like urea, go the extra mile by gently exfoliating your skin. They bid farewell to dead skin cells, leaving your skin smoother and even-toned.

Soothing Savior: Irritated skin? Humectants come to the rescue! They possess soothing properties that help calm down redness and irritation, giving your skin the TLC it deserves.

Plump Perfection: Fine lines and wrinkles don’t stand a chance against humectants. Plumping up the top layer of your skin can aid in reducing the appearance of those pesky signs of aging.

Side Effects of Humectants

While humectants are skincare superheroes, even superheroes have their limitations. Applying humectants to dry skin isn’t their jam – they work best on damp skin. 

Using them excessively in low-humidity conditions might backfire, as they can steal hydration from deeper skin layers, leaving you dehydrated skin.

Remember, balance is key. Over-moisturizing might disrupt your skin barrier’s natural balance. Remember that your skin barrier has a sweet spot for moisture; crossing that line might do more harm than good.

How to Use Humectants

Ready to dive into the world of humectants? Here’s how to make the most of these hydration champions:

  1. Timing is Everything: Apply humectant-rich products when your skin is still damp. It helps the product absorb better and work its magic effectively.
  2. Variety is the Spice of Life: Humectants come in various formulations – oils, serums, and creams. The trick is to find what suits your skin best.
  3. Seal the Deal: Follow up with an occlusive product to lock in all the moisture your humectant draws in. It is especially important if you’re in a dry climate.
  4. Buddy System: Humectants work beautifully with other ingredients. Pair them with emollients for a hydration dream team that will keep your skin glowing.

Best Products With Humectants

These moisture magnets work wonders for your skin; lucky for you, some fantastic products are loaded with them.

Here’s a rundown of the best humectant-rich products that need a spot in your skincare routine:

MINÉRAL 89 by Vichy: Elevate your skincare game with MINÉRAL 89. This gem is like a sip of water for your skin. Packed with hyaluronic acid, a superstar humectant, it effortlessly draws in moisture, leaving your skin plump and radiant.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum: Regarding hydration, Glow Recipe’s Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum means business. Bursting with juicy plum and five types of hyaluronic acid, this serum is a hydration explosion. 

Thayers Rose Water Facial Toner:  Imagine a toner that refreshes and hydrates like a dream. Thayer’s Rose Water Facial Toner does just that. Infused with rose water and aloe vera, it’s a humectant-packed potion that soothes, hydrates and prepares your skin for the rest of your routine.

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks: Your eyes deserve some TLC, too! Wander Beauty’s Baggage Claim Eye Masks are here to rescue tired eyes. With humectants like hyaluronic acid on board, these masks give your delicate under-eye area a serious hydration boost.

Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream: After that coveted glass skin look, Tatcha’s The Dewy Skin Cream is your new best friend. This luxurious moisturizer blends humectants, including Japanese purple rice and hyaluronic acid, to moisten your skin. 

Fast Facts

DefinitionHumectants are moisture-attracting ingredients that draw water to the skin’s surface, promoting hydration.
Cosmetic UseFound in serums, lotions, creams, and more, humectants are key players in skincare and hair products.
Impact on Skin TypesSuitable for all skin types due to a wide range of ingredients falling under the humectant umbrella.
BenefitsHydrates, preserves product properties, seals cracks in skin, exfoliates, soothes, and plumps skin.
DrawbacksOver-application in low humidity can lead to stealing moisture from deeper skin layers, causing dryness.
Usage FrequencyTypically used 1–2 times daily.
CompatibilityWorks well with occlusives and emollients to seal in moisture and enhance softness.
PrecautionsBe cautious with strong acids and retinoids as humectants can enhance their concentration on the skin.
Recommended UsersSuitable for everyone, regardless of skin type.
How Often to Use1–2 times daily, usually after cleansing.
Works Well WithOcclusives and emollients.
Don’t Use WithStrong acids and retinoids.


Which humectant is the best for skin?

Among the various humectants, hyaluronic acid is the best humectant for the skin. Its ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in moisture ensures deep hydration, making it a top choice for plump and radiant skin.

What is the main function of humectants?

The main function of humectants is to draw moisture to the skin’s surface and retain it there. They work like moisture magnets, keeping your skin hydrated, soft, and supple.

Why are humectants used in skin moisturizers?

Humectants are used in moisturizers as they provide a surge of hydration, help maintain the skin’s moisture balance, and ensure your skin stays comfortable and healthy. It’s like giving your skin a big drink of water.

Is humectant good for oily skin?

Yes, humectant is good for oily skin. It provides lightweight hydration without adding excess oil, helping to balance your skin’s moisture levels and prevent that dreaded greasy feeling. 

In Conclusion

Humectants are the secret behind the enviable glow of healthy skin. From their moisture-attracting prowess to their calming and plumping effects, these skincare gems have it all. 

Remember to use them wisely – apply to damp skin, don’t overdo it, and team them up with occlusives and emollients for optimal results. 

With humectants by your side, you’re one step closer to achieving that dreamy, radiant complexion you’ve always wanted.


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