Natural humectants like glycerin pull water from the surrounding air and pull it to your skin keeping your skin moist. They depend on moisture in the air. If you live in a dry climate the moisture will actually be drawn away from your skin.
Three popular humectants are elastin, collagen and keratin, which usually come from animals. Some skin care companies have been busy making claims that special animal proteins are used to replace aging cells, but there is no science to back this claim up. These molecules can’t penetrate your skin because they are too large, and even if they could be broken down your immune system would reject them as a foreign object.
Lecithin is an excellent humectants that provides natural phospholipids, which attract water from the surrounding air and then hold the water in areas of your skin that require moisture without creating a barrier level.
We live in an environment that strips away the natural phospholipids on our skin. This includes the wind, sun, pollution, detergents, and skin cleansers. The result is rough skin.
The only job of your top layer of skin is to provide a protective barrier. It does not metabolize the phospholipids that are in your top layer of the skin. A current study confirmed that when you topically apply plant phospholipids it will restore the skin’s barrier function and protect against harmful substances.
3 Natural Humectants to Look For
Look for these three healthier choices that will actually work better than their chemical counterparts do.
- Glycerin - The main use of glycerin is as a moisturizer for dry, rough skin. A number of studies have shown glycerin to have strong humectant properties that draw water to your skin’s outer layer.
- Lecithin - This natural moisturizer is made from soybeans, and it is able to penetrate the epidermis to reach the cellular level.
- Panthenol - Panthenol or B5 is a natural anti-inflammatory and it has anti itching qualities. The skin is able to easily absorb panthenol and it is a highly effective acne treatment.
3 Synthetic Humectants to Avoid
Synthetic humectants are made from chemicals that are associated with a number of side effects ranging from mild to very serious.
- Propylene Glycol – Causes irritation and contact dermatitis
- PEG compounds (i.e. Polyethylene Glycol) – may contain the toxic by-product dioxane
- Ethylene/Diethylene Glycol – Causes irritation and contact dermatitis
Humectants are a key ingredient in your skin care. Choose healthy!
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