Hydration, hydration, hydration, this is what humectants bring to your skin

They are wonderful for a dehydrated, water dry skin type.

My clients often get confused, about the role of humectants in moisturiser’s, so here is a little summary for you, to get know these ingredients better.


First I need to clarify the following points

If your skin is dry it requires oil, but if your skin is dehydrated, it requires water.

Our skin requires a mixture of both oil rich; and water rich ingredients in order to be healthy.

  • Some natural botanical oils found in skin care such as jojoba or squalane, mimic the skin’s natural oil, which is known as sebum.
  • Humectant ingredients are water rich, they mimic the skin’s sweat, and work by hydrating the skin. They have been specifically designed to prevent water loss, and protect the stratum corneum, the outer layer of skin, from becoming dry and parched.

The article the clear skin difference is worth reading, if you’d like to find out more about dehydrated skin as a condition.


Without getting to technical, the key functionality of a humectant, is to form hydrogen bonds with molecules of water.

This is why humectants are considered an important ingredient for a dry, dehydrated skin.

The reason I like adding humectants to my formulas, is due to they’re amazing ability to attract water like a magnet, chemically binding water to them.

Some humectants, are capable of holding up to 1000 times their own weight in water.

Hyaluronic Acid is one such ingredient that locks moisture onto the surface of the skin, making it moist and healthy.


The following are all humectants.

Groups of water loving agents that are often referred to as hydrophilic ingredients in skincare.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid has potent hydrating capabilities.

 It can hold, anywhere between 600 and 1000 times its own weight in water, perfect for a parched and dehydrated skin.

To find out more about this hyaluronic acid follow the link.

Butylene glycol

This is an ingredient you will often find in skincare products for a dry skin.

It is more popular than propylene glycol, which can be irritating to a sensitive skin, due to its permeability.


This is a strong humectant and a very popular ingredient in my formulas; it works really well as a hydrating agent, I really like the fact it keeps on working long after the cream has been rinsed off the skin.

I created a complete article about Glycerin, which you can read all about here.


This is an ingredient that can be used to replace Glycerin.

It is a great hydrating agent that has many of the same benefits as glycerin.

Sodium PCA

Like hyaluronic acid, this ingredient works really well as a hydrator, helping to attract water to the skin.

Sodium PCA is often used alone or within an oily formula, due to its lightweight properties.

Seaweed and Algae

These are perfect for hydrating mask formulas.

They work by creating a moist film over the surface of the skin, helping to retain water in the skins upper layers.

 These ingredients are extremely nourishing and moisturising.

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