Commonly Used Humectants

• Glycerin
• Pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA)/its derivatives
• Polyethylene glycols (PEGs)
• Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs)—lactic acid,
• Histidine hyaluronic acid
• Urea
• Natural complex sugars: honey, molasses
• Beta-glucan
• Carbohydrates/saccharides/sugars: sucrose,
• Betaine glucose, xylitol, mannitol,
• Glycereth-X
• Maltitol, lactose, sorbitol
• Glycols, e.g. propylene glycol
• Alkylamide MEA, e.g., acetamide MEA and
• Polyquaterium-57/61/71 lactamide MEA
• Minerals—sea salts and
• Polysaccharides and carbohydrates, other minerals e.g. chitosan, dextran

Note: Certain derivatives of these ingredients are also reported to also have humectant properties on the skin. Further, there has been limited exploration of synergies between humectants, although one presentation23 has shown data on the synergy between glycerin and alkylamide MEA to boost skin hydration properties.