Difference Between Humectants and Emollients & How To Apply Them For Intense Hydration

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Moisturizers are generally used to hydrate the skin, normalize skin PH level and prevent the skin from drying out — which can trigger itchiness and discomfort, but it’s really a pity that most people don’t really know that the term “moisturizer” is just a general name. When it comes to in-depth view of moisturizers there are two types which are “humectants” and “emollients”.

having said that, this article-tip is emphasized on hydration — creating awareness of difference between humectants and emollients and how to combine these hydrating ingredients to keep the skin intensively hydrated to the optimum level.

When it comes to hydrating the skin, you don’t just apply a moisturizer and end it there. No, no, you’re doing it the wrong way. If you want to wake up with a supple plump skin. This is how to get it done. You have to introduce both humectants and emollients into your skincare routine or regimen. Keep reading to know how to get it done properly for optimal hydration result.

So What’s The Difference Between Humectants & Emollients?


Humectants are known to pull moisture from the atmosphere into the skin pores. That’s what they do. That’s their job. When you apply a humectant moisturizer they draw moisture from your surroundings into your skin. They are called “The moisture magnet” That’s why it’s always advised to apply humectant moisturizers on a damp or moist (not dripping wet) skin, if not, they’ll draw moisture within your skin to moisturize the outer layer of your skin (if they can’t possibly attract much moisture from the atmosphere). Example of humectants are: hyaluronic acid, glycerin honey, aloe vera and AHA’s.


Emollients on the other hand seals in moisture into the skin, they help trap or lock in moisture into the skin (which has been drawn by the humectants) to avoid them escaping. Examples of emollients: petrolatum, shea butter, cocoa butter, mineral oil and plants oils like, coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, white oil, paraffin oil, liquid paraffin and other fatty-rich oils and butters.

Take for example: When you mix water and oil together, the oil will definitely sit at the top of the water right? That’s exactly what happens when you apply emollients on your skin. They don’t penetrate into the skin pores rather they sit at the top layer to seal or lock in moisture — which has already been drawn into the skin by a humectant.

In summary.

Humectants draw moisture into the skin, and emollients lock the moisture into place—without emollients, the moisture will evaporate and your skin will be left drier than they were before.
However, it’s highly advised to apply humectants on a damp or moist skin for optimal results. As applying humectants on a dry skin can have an opposite effect of what it’s intended as they are going to pull moisture from the deeper layer of the skin to hydrate the surface (the outer layer) which can leave skin more dehydrated.

Humectants works well with water. Infact when a humectant comes in contact with water your skin will definitely gonna thank you for the later effect.

So, apply a humectant first, before sealing off with an emollient that way your skin will look ravishingly supple and plump every morning.

Possible Questions & Answers

Q: Can humectants and emollients be used both morning and night?

A: Definitely yes. As both are categorized as moisturizers, they can both be used at AMs (morning) & PMs (Evening).

Q: Is the combination of humectants and emollients suitable for all skin types.

A: Just as being discussed in the content, Humectants add moisture by drawing water molecules from the environment towards the epidermis in order to help rehydrate the skin’s surface. They help increase the amount of water within the skin, while Emollients lock in water or moisture into the skin to avoid them from escaping making both humectants and emollients great moisturizers for all skin types.

UP NEXT: Yes, Your Body Needs Hydration Too, Check Out The Best Oil-Free Moisturizing Lotions.

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