#WOTW: Everything You Need To Know About Humectants
A key ingredient in many skincare and haircare products, a humectant hydrates the skin by attracting water and locking in moisture. Humectants literally work like water magnets by forming hydrogen bonds with water molecules. They increase the level of hydration in the epidermis or the outermost layer of the skin, making the skin look visibly plumper.
They are essential to keeping the skin soft and supple. Humectants also help in repairing dry, cracked skin by delivering hydration. They also reduce irritation caused by dry, dehydrated skin and act as a barrier by blocking chemicals from entering the dermis. Generally, humectants pull water from the dermis or the deepest layer of the skin to the epidermis. However, if the level of humidity is above 70 per cent, humectants draw moisture from the air.
A number of products like hair conditioners, facial and body cleansers, eye creams, lip care products, etc. contain humectants because of their ability to draw moisture and retain it in the hair and skin. Synthetic humectants are used in most products because they are economical as compared to natural humectants.
While synthetic humectants are adept at locking in moisture, they offer little beyond that function. They are adept at moisturising quickly but dry out the skin in the long run. Natural humectants, on the other hand, attract moisture as well as replenish moisture and nutrients to the dermis. They also improve the skin’s ability to hydrate itself. Hyaluronic acid, a natural compound found in the body, aloe, alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) which is found in fruits, milk, sugarcane, etc., honey, seaweed, algae, are just some natural humectants.