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How do humectants moisturize?

Humectants draw water to the skin’s surface, thus increasing the water content of the epidermis, or outer layer. If the air around you is really humid (picture yourself on a balmy, tropical island with a rainstorm descending upon you), humectants can also draw water from the atmosphere into the epidermis. Like emollients, there are dozens of humectants available for manufacturers to use in their products. Some examples include hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, sorbitol, glycerin, propylene glycerol, urea, and sodium lactate.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Humectants are compounds that draw water from the surrounding environment and lock it in. Humectant ingredients also aid in retaining water that is applied directly to the skin. In addition, your surface skin cells actually contain natural humectants, called Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF), which bind to the water that skin produces and hold it in place.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.