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HUMECTANTS, EMOLLIENTS, OCCLUSIVES… OH MY!

There are three categories when it comes to moisturizing ingredients: humectants, emollients, occlusives. Three fancy words that are thrown around the beauty industry that can cause a lot of confusion and be darn mind-boggling. What are these three pillars of skincare and why should you care.

Humectants, Emollients, Occlusives – Explain yourself!

Basically, these three substances are the different kinds of moisturizing ingredients. You likely have used all types throughout your skincare lifetime. Your skin type, age and environment will determine how much of each you need more of. They each function differently in how they deliver moisture to the skin. Knowing the difference between them will help you figure out which  types are best for your skin and when the best times to use them are.

Humectants

Hydrator

Hygroscopic substance

Draw Moisture to Skin

What are Humectants?

Humectants are the key to a healthy, hydrated complexion. Often found in gel form, they are water-loving ingredients that draw and hold moisture to the skin without making it oily. They calm and soothe irritated skin and give skin a “plumping” effect, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

humectantSome common humectants:

  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Glycerin
  • Sodium Hyaluronate
  • Aloe Vera
  • Butylene Glycol
  • Lactic acid
  • Urea

Who can benefit:

All skin can benefit from humectants but are essential for dry skin. Humectants are also beneficial for oily or acne prone skin as they do not add more oil or clog pores.

Why’s hyaluronic acid so magical? For starters, HA can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water! In other words, it functions as a humectant and holds water molecules onto the surface of your skin to keep it nice and hydrated. – Healthline

Application tips:

  • Work best when paired with an occlusive to seal in moisture.
  • Applying to damp skin will help draw the moisture to the top layer of the skin.

May We Suggest:

HA Quench Hyaluronic Acid Serum 

BIO Illumina Phyto-Growth Factor Serum

Emollients

Skin softener

Oil Substance that fills gaps between skin cells

Often Found in Cream form

What are Emollients?

emollientBasically, emollients soften and moisturize skin, protecting and repairing skin’s outermost layer. They keep skin soft, supple and help decrease inflammation. Emollients are often used to treat dry, flakey skin and skin conditions. They fill in the empty space between skin cells when skin becomes cracked. Emollients usually include butters, fatty acids and oils, which all help treat dry or sensitive skin.

Some common Emollients:

  • Fatty Acids
  • Shea Butter
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Sunflower oil

Who can benefit:

Emollients are the secret to getting rid of dry skin. Regular application can also prevent eczema or psoriasis flare-ups. All skin types can benefit from emollients, except excessively-oily skin. Emollients have the potential to cause clogged pores and blemishes.

Doctors note that humectants, occlusives, and emollients comprise the key ingredients of a good moisturizer. Humectant ingredients attract and retain moisture, occlusive ingredients create a barrier to prevent water loss, and emollients smooth skin by filling in the cracks between cells. Shea Butter is an humectant, an occlusive, and an emollient. – Nasabb

Application tips:

  • Gently smooth emollients in the same direction as hair grows. Going against the hair growth or rubbing up and down can cause blocked hair follicles.
  • Can apply as often as needed.

May We Suggest:

Kranberry Kiss CoQ10 Radiance Repair

Drench Citrus Restorative Hydrating Complex

Revue Hydra-Matte Moisturizer

Occlusives

Protector

Oily or Waxy Substance

Mimick skin’s natural barrier

Lock in Moisture

What are Occlusives?

occlusiveOcclusives provide a protective, thick layer over the skin’s surface to prevent it from losing moisture. They prevent harmful irritants and pollutants from entering skin. Occlusives usually have a thicker consistency and are ideal for aging, dehydrated and dry skin.

Some occlusives work better than others. Some occlusives are not so eco-friendly, like mineral oil and petroleum and some can clog pores. Our fave occlusive is shea butter.

“Occlusives are moisturizing agents that work by forming a protective layer on the surface of your skin and create a barrier to prevent moisture loss,” – Olay Scientific Communications Senior Director Frauke Neuser Ph.D., Good Housekeeping.

Occlusives can be a great option for eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.

Some common Occlusives:

  • Beeswax
  • Plant oils
  • Squalene
  • Avocado oil
  • Argan oil
  • Cocoa Butter

Because beeswax has a low comedogenic rating it will not clog the pores as much as other occlusive agents such as petroleum. Beeswax possesses humectant qualities that help keep the skin hydrated upon application. (4)

Who can benefit:

Occlusives are ideal for aging, dehydrated and dry skin. Acne-prone and oily skin might not benefit from occlusives as they have the potential to block pores.

May We Suggest:

Beauty Sleep Repair Moisturizer

Canadian Maple Ageless Cream  

The best moisturizing regime should include a combination of humectants to draw in moisture, emollients to smooth, and occlusives to seal all that goodness in. Those of you with normal, combination or oily skin types may find that emollients are enough to hold moisture into your skin, whereas dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin types often benefit from a thicker, heavier occlusive. (5)



Resources

1.Why Science Says Hyaluronic Acid Is the Holy Grail to Wrinkle-Free, Youthful Hydration. Healthline.

2. Why Shea Butter is So Great. Nsabb.

3. What You Need to Know About Occlusives in Skincare. These ingredients go a long way to help keep dry skin at bay. Wizemann, Good Housekeeping Institute.

4. What is Beeswax? The Skincare Chemist.

5. An Inside Scoop On Emollients, Humectants & Occlusives. G.Gould. TruSkin.

6. This Is Why Emollients Are the Secret to Getting Rid of Dry Skin. M.Rud Chadwick. M. Farber. MD, FAAD. Board Certified Dermatologist. Byrdie.

8.How Emollients Can Treat Most Of Your Skin Issues? S. Bhattacharya. Dr. Kaustav Guha ( Director, R&D Division, SkinKraft Labs ).  SkinKraft

9. What are Occlusives? Leslie Baumann, MD. Cosmetic Dermatologist.

 

 

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