humectants and acneIn past Love Vitamin articles, I’ve talked about how to properly moisturize your skin to prevent acne…

The two main ingredients in the recipe of good skin moisturization are water and oil.

Water is probably the most important part… without water, your skin is dehydrated. It’s sort of prune like… it feels tight and unpleasant and shows all kinds of lines (even if your skin is also oily).

However, without proper oil (also known as an “occlusive” ingredient), your skin becomes dry because it can’t hold that water in. The water in your skin evaporates out into the air and gets even more dehydrated.

This is all very important because your skin needs to be properly hydrated in order to function the way it’s supposed to… in other words, skin that is smooth and acne free!

So today I want to talk about what they call “humectants”.

Humectants are ingredients in skin care that attract water to your skin and hold it there, magically making it feel super hydrated and young looking! No kidding!

Attracting Water from the Air vs The Deeper Layers of your Skin

The trick about humectants though is that you want to use humectants in a way that they absorb and attract water from the environment, and not from the deeper layers of your skin.

In certain circumstances and depending on the humectant, sometimes they will draw water up from the deeper layers of your skin and make your skin look great on the surface but increasingly more dehydrated over time.

This means that you want to:

  • Use natural humectants, which are more likely than synthetic ones to draw from the environment instead of your own skin
  • Use humectants in reasonable amounts. For example, powerful humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin should only be used in a 10% to 15% concentration.
  • Use a humidifier to increase the air humidity in your house in the winter, or if you live in a dry or desert environment (so the humectant has more moisture in the air to draw to your skin)
  • Apply humectants to wet or damp skin (especially a great time is at the end of a shower when the humidity is super high) so that your skin can soak up all that water and hold it in your skin

Avoid: Synthetic Humectants

Before we get to the good humectants, let’s talk about which humectants to avoid. These humectants are synthetic and cheap to make, meaning that conventional skin care companies like to use a lot of them in their products.

But like I said, these synthetic ones will dry out your skin over time, so best to avoid them.

  • Propylene glycol – This is the synthetic version of glycerin, and is a petroleum product with a potentially sketchy safety record and a history of causing skin irritations and allergies.
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEGs) – Same as propylene glycol (or any ingredient ending with “glycol”), it is a petroleum products that dries the skin out over time and contains potential carcinogens
  • Urea – This product is a preservative and humectant, but it releases formaldehyde, which is considered a carcinogen and has a history of causing dermatitis

Use Natural Humectants Instead!

And now onto the good stuff! Which are the best natural humectants to use?

  • Honey – Well, that’s convenient since I already advise you to wash your face with raw honey! This will help you attract that water to your skin so you can lock it in with a good oil
  • Aloe veraAloe vera is 95% hydrating water and also contains powerful skin soothing compounds, so I have always been a big fan and use it in my DIY moisturizer. It’s also a humectant!
  • Hyaluronic acid – Although this sounds like a scary chemical, it’s actually a molecule that is already present in your body and skin and has a very powerful natural ability to hold onto water
  • Glycerin – A very common and inexpensive humectant, it is also already present in your skin cells and is a super strong water attracter!

So there you go! Next week I’m going to talk about my new ultimate favourite skin care ingredient ever… I just discovered it and I’m in love. And yes it’s a humectant!

Do you use humectants in your skin care?