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What is a Humectant and why is it Essential for Cosmetics?

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What is a Humectant and why is it Essential for Cosmetics?

By Dr. Kate Dudek

A humectant is a substance used to keep things moist. It attracts and absorbs moisture from the air. When found in cosmetics, humectants function to maintain moisture in the skin and hair. As such, they are found in shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, cleansers, lip balms and eye serums. Humectants form hydrogen bonds with water molecules from the atmosphere or in the body. This is a property known as hygroscopicity. The degree of hygroscopicity varies depending on the type of humectant. Due to its exposure to the skin, a humicant must be non-toxic and non-reactive with other ingredients. The most widely used humectant in cosmetic products is glycerin.

One of the most important functions of the skin is to provide a barrier against external, and potentially harmful, factors found in our environment, including infectious agents (bacteria and viruses), allergens and irritants.  This barrier is optimal when it is healthy and hydrated.  However, medical conditions (eg. eczema and psoriasis) and certain therapies (eg. chemotherapy) may affect that barrier, either through slowing down the skin’s natural regenerative capabilities, or aggravating the skin’s surface during an inflammatory process.  When the skin is thin, dry or inflamed, a good moisturiser will help to relieve these symptoms and provide a temporary barrier from environmental irritants.  The ability of humectants to attract and retain moisture adds to the soothing properties of topical creams and lotions. Humectant-rich moisturisers, such as the Ozalys Precious Care Day and Night Cream, are an excellent choice for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, as they provide care and nourishment to sensitive skin.

About Ozalys

Ozalys’ products have been designed with women who have been affected by cancer in mind. Ozalys allows women to continue to care for themselves every day using products that innovate through their formulas, galenics and packaging. Ozalys’ specially-formulated solutions are catered for physiological conditions that cause dermal sensitivity, or for the side effects of certain treatments that may result in olfactory and dermal ultra-sensitivity.
Ozalys’ personal hygiene, face and body care products have all been developed with the utmost care, minimising preservatives and excluding all substances suspected of being harmful to the body. Their highly soothing, moisturising and protective properties, as well as their delicate application and scent, turn daily beauty routines into moments of well-being and comfort.

Sources:

  • Romanowski, P. Chemists Corner, https://chemistscorner.com/humectants-cosmetic-formulating-basics/.
  • Lodén , M, et al. “The Influence of a Humectant-Rich Mixture on Normalz Skin Barrier Function and on Once- and Twice-Daily Treatment of Foot Xerosis. A Prospective, Randomized, Evaluator-Blind, Bilateral and Untreated-Control Study.” Skin Research and Technology, vol. 19, no. 4, 22 Mar. 2013, pp. 438–445., doi:10.1111/srt.12066.
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