Humectants and Hyaluronic Acid in Skincare

Humectants and Hyaluronic Acid in Skincare

Hydration, hydration, hydration!

This is what valuable humectants bring to your skin

They are wonderful for dehydrated and dry skin.

All Skin Types Require Water

Any skin can require hydration – even oily skin – if we remember dry skin lacks oil, and dehydrated skin lacks water.

This is a subject I discuss in the article, “The Clear Skin Difference: It Begins With Hydration.

Achieving Healthy Skin Requires Balance

Therefore, our skin requires a mixture of both oil-rich and water-rich ingredients to be healthy.

  • Some natural botanical oils found in skincare products, such as jojoba or squalane, mimic the skin’s natural oil, 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 the epidermis, from becoming dry and parched.

The Role of Humectants

Without getting too 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 dry and dehydrated skin.

The reason I like to add humectants to my formulae is due to their ability to attract water like a magnet, physically binding water to them.

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

Hyaluronic Acid, found in our H₂O Hydrating Complex, is one such ingredient. It locks moisture onto the surface of the skin, keeping it moist and healthy.

Types of Humectants

Humectants are groups of water-loving agents that are referred to as “hydrophilic” ingredients in skincare.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid has potent hydrating capabilities.

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

Butylene Glycol

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

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


This is a powerful humectant that works really well as a hydrating agent. I personally like the fact that it keeps on working long after the product has been rinsed off the skin.

You can read more about Glycerine here.


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

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

Sodium PCA

Like Hyaluronic Acid, this ingredient works really well to hydrate by helping to attract water to the skin.

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

You can read more about Sodium PCA here.

Seaweed and Algae

These are perfect for hydrating mask formulae.

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

These ingredients are extremely nourishing and moisturising.

14 thoughts on “Humectants and Hyaluronic Acid in Skincare

  1. freshgg says:

    Hyaluronic Acid (HA) has now superseded collagen as the go-to ingredient. I get my hyaluronic acid from the Made from Earth Plant Stem Cell Moisturizer – its uses botanical hyaluronic acid.

    The main effect of this Made from Earth moisturizer is making my skin seem much fuller and plumped up. This doesn’t mean you will look fatter! The skin just looks much more healthy and glowing. It is a more youthful effect all round. It evens out the skin, so the tone is improved and the crow’s feet that were starting to take over are diminished gradually with use.

    Just a little bit is needed for one application – I am impressed

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hello, I love your feedback and I have to agree about the fact that it has superseded collagen, hylauronic acid has so many beneficial skin qualities on so many levels. I have to agree it is the perfect anti ageing ingredient, because it is skin identical and starts to deplete in our skin as we mature, i recommend try layering both low molecular hyaluronic weight with regular hyaluronic for fantastic hydrated results. Samantha.

        • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

          Hi Liz
          High and low moleculars weights are different. High molecular sits on the skin and keeps it hydrated, low molecular penetrates deep into the dermis. I recommend Fortify, bio lipid and H20 for an impaired barrier and savior if you have sensitivity. Samantha

  2. rogue g says:

    Hyaluronic acid works for wrinkles because the molecule swells after it absorbs water, and that plumps lines on the spot. Look for products with hyaluronic acid listed near the top of the ingredient list, cause that means there is alot of it.

  3. Miranda says:

    Hi really informative thank you. About urea based cream is it helpful for acne prone skin? My skin tends to break out and I tend to get rashes that are weepy then I have to use steroids based creams which I am trying to keep away from. Would this urea based cream help me?

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Miranda

      An acne prone skin is often an irritated skin, where the acid mantle becomes impaired allowing bacteria under the surface, which causes a chain reaction. Urea is great as an ingredient for acne in terms of acting as a humectant and reducing irritation, although you don’t want high percentages as it may become an irritant.

  4. Victoria says:

    I love your site and your info is so helpful. I’m allergic to coconut, wheat and palm oils and have perioral dermatitis which is controlled as long as I stay away from glycerins, which is in everything. It’s hard to find a moisturizer without the glycerins. I hope to learn so much from your site. Thank you, Victoria

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