Humectants for Hair & Skin Care: Benefits & Dangers

5min Read

Humectants for Hair & Skin Care: Benefits & Dangers

Blog banner that states "Humectants for Hair & Skin Care: Benefits & Dangers"

You must have heard that humectants can be beneficial, or maybe even detrimental to your natural hair and skin care routine. 

Well in this all-encompassing blog, we have the answer for you!

Our goal is to help you get a better understanding of what humectants are, how they affect your hair & skin, how they are different from other moisturizers, and what the best humectant products are for your regimen. 

You may even discover that you are already using humectants in your daily routine without even knowing it.

But we don’t want to spoil the surprise! ;)

Without further ado, let’s dive right into it! 

What Are Humectants?

Humectants are water-attracting ingredients that promote moisture retention by absorbing moisture from the air in its local environment and essentially bonding it to the structure of your hair & skin molecules.


You will typically find this common moisturizing agent in your everyday products such as:

  • Hair Shampoos
  • Body Lotions
  • Moisturizing Conditioners
  • Lip Balms 
  • Facial Creams
  • Hand Soaps

  • And many more common beauty products!

    These can work wonders for your natural hair and skin care, but can also be treacherous if used in the wrong environment. Have no fear though, that’s why we’re here to help guide you in your journey to healthy hair and skin.

    How Do Humectants Work for Hair Care?

    Humectants are helpful ingredients added to your favorite hair products to prevent moisture loss for dry or damaged hair.

    By using the local environment, humectants attract water molecules and bind them to strands of hair, with the end result being increased moisture retention.

    When applying a humectant to your hair and having it come into contact with water, you can help the shaft of the hair absorb the moisture, leaving hair softer and stronger.

    Humectants can help promote the following for your hair:

  • Added moisture to help hair feel softer
  • Create more bounce and volume 
  • Help retain curls
  • Create smoother and less brittle hair

  • How Do Humectants Work for Skin Care?

    Humectants work on the skin by moving water from the second layer of the skin, known as the dermis, and moving it to the top layer, known as the epidermis. 

    They do this by interacting with the local  environment they are in or by going through the dermis, the deeper layer of skin.

    Humectants can promote the shedding of dead cells on the skin by penetrating the proteins that hold the dead skin cells together and breaking them down.

    By increasing the moisture on the epidermis, you will be adding more moisture to the stratum corneum, which is the layer of dead skin cells that form on the outer crust of the epidermis. 

    Using humectants will help reduce flakiness in the skin and be less likely to crack or be chafe when dry. 

    The Risk of Using Humectants on Natural Hair

    If you have a high porosity hair type or live in a humid environment, humectants may actually hold too much water and when bound with your natural hair, it could cause frizziness.

    In this case, you could use other products that work against the humectants or a hair sealer. 

    During winter months, humectants can also draw in too much moisture and cause premature drying of your hair and skin. 

    Similar to the LOC method, you can use moisturizers with an occlusive agent to reduce the loss of moisture by creating an oil barrier on your hair, as well as your skin.

    The Risk of Using Humectants on Your Skin

    Some synthetic humectants will actually draw water from deeper levels of your skin and bring it to the surface, which as you can guess will cause long-term problems. 

    A few examples of these problems are accelerated aging, skin flaking, and excessive drying.

    Humectant Ingredients to Look Out For

    Humectants can either be all-natural or man-made ingredients. Each comes along with its own intended applications and properties.

    Let’s go over them both in-depth!


    Types of Synthetic Humectants 

    Synthetic, man-made, humectants are popular amongst hair and skin care products because they are inexpensive and have a longer shelf-life compared to that of natural humectants. 

    Some synthetic humectants will actually draw water from deeper levels of your skin and bring it to the surface, which as you can guess will cause long-term problems. 

    At Shedavi, our ingredients are 100% natural, and we stand by helping you create your ultimate healthy hair regimen. We don’t recommend using synthetic humectants, because you will simply not be receiving all of the benefits as you would from a natural humectant.

    Additionally, over time synthetic humectants can actually dry out your skin and hair, causing more damages to pre-existing conditions

    The next time you look at a product, keep an eye out for the following synthetic humectants: 

  • Synthetic Glycerin derived from petroleum 
  • Urea
  • Sodium PCA 
  • Sorbitol 
  • Butylene glycol
  • Sodium lactate
  • Dicyanamide

  • Types of Natural Humectants 

    Natural humectants, on the other hand, can provide both hair and skin with tons of rich moisturizing benefits. 

    The most important benefit of natural humectants is attracting and locking moisture into your hair and skin.

    When looking for natural humectants for hair or skin to add to your routine, make sure they have a few of the following:

  • Aloe vera
  • Seaweed
  • Honey
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Alpha hydroxy acid 
  • Natural Glycerin, derived from oils and fats, such as coconut/palm oil

  • Difference Between the 3 Types of Moisturizers

    In general use, moisturizers are designed to smooth and soften your skin, and keep your natural hair defined, bouncy, and smooth.


    Humectants work exceptionally well with dry skin and hair that have trouble retaining moisture. 

    If you are using a humectant on your hair, the humectant will help absorb more water and moisture into the hair and can diffuse into your hair shaft. The outcome of using humectants on dry hair will be more softness, bounce, and curl retention. 

    If your hair is prone to breakage, you will find that humectants will help seal in the moisture which can lead to less breakage and a more defined curl pattern. 

    Some of the best humectants you can use (and find in Shedavi products!) include:

  • Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed oil
  • Salvia Sclarea (Clary Sage) oil
  • Honey
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  • Natural Glycerin 

  • Occlusives:

    Occlusives, typically paired together with humectants and emollients, serve as a physical barrier on the skin. When it comes to using an occlusive on your hair, the occlusive will lock in moisture and seal it in the hair shaft.

    They are primarily oil-based products that are great for people that suffer from extremely dry skin conditions, such as eczema. 

    Due to its oily substance, if your hair is naturally oily, occlusives could worsen your dry hair or skin.

    Many occlusives contain essential ingredients such as:

  • Shea butter
  • Mineral Oil
  • Lanolin
  • Dimethicone 
  • Petrolatum

  • Emollients: 

    Emollients are moisturizing treatments that are topically applied to your hair and skin to soothe, heal, and hydrate. 

    They cover your hair or skin with a protective film to trap in moisture.

    Common ingredients are:

  • Shea butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Beeswax
  • Lanolin
  • Paraffin
  • Squalene
  • Mineral oil
  • Essential oils (olive, coconut, jojoba, etc.)

  • They are typically found in common products such as lotions, creams, sprays, ointments, and soaps.

    Best Humectant Hair Products for Natural Hair

    If you are looking for the best humectant for hair, then the Shedavi Crowned Colleection will be a perfect option for you. 

    This collection offers a variety of benefits and contains 100% natural humectants. 

    The Shedavi Hair and Scalp Elixir offers over 20 essential oils that promote healthy hair growth along with softer, bouncier, and more defined curls! 

    Image of Shedavi hair and scalp elixir

    The Shedavi Moisturizing Crown Conditioner is one of the best natural humectant conditioners you can find. It will help you keep your natural hair protected, soft, and moisturized! 

    Image of the Shedavi crowned moisturizing conditioner

    If you are looking for a masque that locks in moisture and helps protect hair, then the Shedavi Crowned Protein Masque should definitely be on your radar. 

    Image of the Shedavi crowned protein masque

    This hair mask is complete with  natural humectants that will leave you with beautiful and moisture-rich hair! 

    What Will Your Healthy Hair Journey Look Like?

    You made it all the way through!

    We hope that you received a few key takeaways from this blog and have a better understanding of what types of products and ingredients you can add to your routine.

    What types of moisturizers do you use, and why? Tell us about it in the comments :)

    5 Best DIY Hair Masks for Dry, Damaged, Frizzy Hair Prev Post
    Dos and Don'ts of Wearing Braids Next Post

    Comments must be approved before they are published.