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Humectants are a vital component in skincare, particularly for conditions characterized by impaired skin barrier function and excessive dryness. Their ability to attract and retain moisture in the skin makes them invaluable in both therapeutic and preventive dermatology.

Physiological effects of humectants
  1. Moisture Attraction: Humectants draw moisture from the environment and the deeper layers of the skin to the outer layer (stratum corneum), enhancing skin hydration.
  2. Enhancing Skin Barrier Function: By improving skin hydration, humectants help to maintain and improve the skin's barrier function, protecting against irritants and reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
  3. Skin Elasticity and Appearance: Improved hydration can enhance skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving the skin a plumper and smoother look.
  4. Soothing Effect: Humectants can have a soothing effect on the skin, particularly in conditions involving dryness or irritation.
Role in managing dermatological conditions
  1. Dry Skin (Xerosis): Humectants are key ingredients in many moisturizers and are highly effective in managing dry skin by providing and maintaining hydration.
  2. Eczema and Dermatitis: Their moisturizing and soothing properties help in relieving symptoms of eczema and dermatitis, such as dryness, itching, and irritation.
  3. Aging Skin: Humectants are used in anti-aging skincare products due to their ability to hydrate the skin and improve its appearance.
  4. Psoriasis: They can aid in reducing the dryness and scaling associated with psoriasis.
  5. Acne-Prone Skin: Certain humectants can be beneficial in acne treatments, as they provide necessary hydration without clogging pores.
  • Lodén, M. (2005). Role of Topical Emollients and Moisturizers in the Treatment of Dry Skin Barrier Disorders. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.
  • Rawlings, A. V., & Canestrari, D. A. (2011). Moisturizer technology versus clinical performance. Dermatologic Therapy.
  • Fluhr, J. W., Darlenski, R., & Surber, C. (2008). Glycerol and the skin: holistic approach to its origin and functions. British Journal of Dermatology.