Cosmetics – Exploring humectants

Ever wonder how your lotion helps prevent dry skin? There are many ingredients that go into creating the perfect moisturizing lotion, but one class of ingredients in particular helps lotions and other cosmetic and personal care products work; humectants.

What is a humectant?

Humectants describe ingredients that draw in and retain moisture. There are a variety of humectants some of them are commonly known ingredients like honey, other ingredients are synthesized from plants and other sources to create ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, and more.

These synthesized ingredients perform an important role in providing cosmetic and personal care products the ability to work effectively by attracting and retaining moisture.

How do humectants help moisturize?

When used in a cosmetics or personal care product, humectants are formulated in conjunction with several types of ingredients such as emulsifiers, antioxidants, preservatives, and more to provide and ensure moisture and other active ingredients are absorbed and create the desired barrier to help retain moisture. By keeping moisture close to the skin or hair, humectants can play a crucial role in keeping dryness at bay.

Are humectants found in food and other products?

Humectant ingredient use is not limited to cosmetics and personal care products, they can be found in food often as an anti-caking agent, in electronic cigarettes, and even agricultural production products.

Uses for humectants vary greatly between industries, so a humectant used in agricultural production, for example, will be formulated differently than if used for a cosmetic product.

Are they safe?

Humectants in cosmetics, personal care, food, and agricultural products have been studied for many years and are considered safe for everyday use. However, humectant use in electronic cigarettes have not been tested in long-term studies and more information is needed before determining the long-term safety of this application.

You can always check the safety of any ingredient, including humectants on the FDA’s website. You can also check out the ingredients of specific cosmetic and personal care products at the Cosmetic Ingredient Review’s website database.


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