Water-absorbing substance used to keep things moist / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A humectant /hjuːˈmɛktənt/ is a hygroscopic (water-absorbing) substance used to keep things moist. They are used in many products, including food, cosmetics, medicines and pesticides. When used as a food additive, a humectant has the effect of keeping moisture in the food.[1] Humectants are sometimes used as a component of antistatic coatings for plastics.

A humectant attracts and retains the moisture in the air nearby via absorption, drawing the water vapor into or beneath the organism's or object's surface.[2][3] This is the opposite use of a hygroscopic material where it is used as a desiccant used to draw moisture away.

In pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, humectants can be used in topical dosage forms to increase the solubility of a chemical compound's active ingredients, increasing the active ingredients' ability to penetrate skin, or its activity time. This hydrating property can also be needed to counteract a dehydrating active ingredient (e.g., soaps, corticoids, and some alcohols), which is why humectants are common ingredients in a wide range of cosmetic and personal care products that make moisturization claims (e.g., hair conditioners, body lotions, face or body cleansers, lip balms, and eye creams).