What is a Humectant in Skincare?

We're taking you back to high school science class for this one.

Caitlin M.
ByCaitlin M.

A lot of terms get tossed around in the beauty world. Some are easy, some not so much. To help make the muddled world of beauty terminology a little less confusing, we're exploring some common—and some not-so common—terms popping up in the world of hair, skin, and makeup. We already broke down microdermabrasion, rosacea, and multimasking. Now, let's take a look at a super common term around the winter months: humectant.

The word: Humectant

Also known as: The water-loving molecules in your moisturizer

What it means: Humectant only sounds fancy. In fact, some of you might recall learning about humectants in science class! Humectants are hydrophilic ingredients that attract water molecules from around them and bond to them. In simple terms: Humectants bring on the moisture. Now, in terms of beauty: Humectants are some of the key ingredients in hydrating or skin-plumping products. 

You'll notice that your product has a humectant if you look at the ingredient list and see popular ingredients such as glycerin (glycerol is another common form of glycerin) and hyaluronic acid. Glycerin is plentiful in beauty products and is commonly found in soaps, lotions, and creams. Another humectant making the rounds in the skincare world is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a must for uber dry skin, as it has the ability to hold a large amount of moisture.

Although there are other forms of humectants, these are two quite common ones that you'll probably run into while shopping for products.

Shop it:

Save: No7 Airbrush Away Original Primer ($13.99)

No7 Airbrush Away Primer

This primer focuses on blurring away pores and plumping up skin with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to give a more youthful appearance.

Splurge: Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber De-Tox Hydra-Gel Eye Patches ($48)

 Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber De-Tox Hydra-Gel Eye Patches

This new launch from Peter Thomas Roth says it right in the name—it's all about the water. With both hyaluronic acid  and glycerin as active ingredients, these eye patches contour to your face to deliver potent ingredients to fight puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines.

IndieYouth To The People Kale Spinach Hyaluronic Acid Age Prevention Cream ($48)

Youth To The People Kale Spinach Hyaluronic Acid Age Prevention Cream

Kale, spinach, and green tea join hyaluronic acid in drenching skin in hydration and superfood nourishment. Watch it fight dryness, aging, and elasticity thanks to the winning combo of photonutrients and humectants.

Have you tried any of these products? Which products are you top picks for dryness?

About the Author
Caitlin M.
Caitlin M.
Runner. Music lover. All things nachos. Follow me on Instagram: @caitlinsmiller