Powerful Ways to Boost Your Skin’s Hydration

Powerful Ways to Boost Your Skin’s Hydration

Original Author: Fira Syafiqah


Do you know that keeping your skin hydrated is essential for normal functioning of the skin especially the outermost part of epidermis – stratum corneum (SC)? Hence, the most important thing to be done is to always keep your skin hydrated by retarding water loss from the skin. The retention of water in the stratum corneum is affected by two major aspects:

  1. The presence of natural hygroscopic agents (humectants) within the corneocytes or we call them as Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF). Healthy skin cells of outermost layer contain approximately 10% of NMF in dry weight (Total weight without water).
  2. The SC intercellular lipids are arranged as it forms a barrier to transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Natural Moisturising Factor

Chemical protective coat comprises of humectants which draw atmospheric water like a magnet

What is NMF?

Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)

Mechanism of water passing from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates from the surface of the skin.

International Journal of Pharmaceutics

Adequate Hydration To Produce Healthy Skin in 3 Different Ways

  • Help maintaining skin elasticity. An elastic skin is most unlikely to be prone into mechanical damage such as wrinkles, fine lines and rough skin texture. If you maintain proper hydration, you will notice signs of aging on your skin will be hard to be seen with naked eyes.
  • Activate hydrolytic enzymes, substances that require water to cut larger molecules into smaller pieces, especially in natural dead skin shedding process, known as desquamation. Increased water loss/ TEWL to the atmosphere causes impaired enzymatic functions required for normal desquamation, resulting in visible appearance of dry and flaky skin.
  • Boost SC function which protects the cells beneath the SC from infection, dehydration and chemical damage.

Simply Boost Your Skin’s Hydration by Following These Simple-yet-Effective Ways

  • Drink adequate amount of water – 8 glass per day. Since our skin is comprising of 30% water composition, therefore, increasing water intake can help retard water loss and enhance your skin’s hydration.
  • Apply hydrating product containing humectants in which these substances have the ability to absorb moisture from the atmosphere.
  • Apply skin barrier repairing product which contain ceramides and fatty acid to promote strong skin barrier and prevent TEWL.
  • Wear sheet mask approximately 10-20 minutes for instant hydration. Do not wear overnight as it will accelerate moisture loss.
  • Apply 2-fingers rule for sunscreen and reapply every 2 or 3 hours. Direct exposure to sunlight can make your skin look dehydrated, increasing TEWL and breaking down collagen and elastin components of healthy skin barrier. Collagen and elastin are important for strength and elasticity of skin barrier.

Now, let’s go deeper into hydrating product containing hydrating substance called HUMECTANTS. According to European Commission database with information on cosmetics substances and ingredients (CosIng), there are more than 900 substances have been listed as humectants. Hydrating substances in cosmetics product are used to retard water loss from the skin and to add water content to the skin by absorbing water from the surrounding.

The powerful blend of humectants which can be found in the stratum corneum is called Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) where the substances belonging to this group are amino acids, pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), lactates, urea and inorganic ions. NMF if formed from the filaggrin protein in which its formation is controlled by the moisture level in SC. Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, urea, saccharides and lactic acid are some NMF that can be naturally found in SC.

In cosmetic products, physiologically occuring and synthetic substances are used as humectants. Since all types of skin need hydration (including OILY SKIN), below are some humectants to look for in skincare products and how they can hydrate your skin:

1. Butylene Glycol

Other name: 1,3-butanediol; 2,3-butanediol


  • A viscous, colourless liquid with sweet flavour and bitter aftertaste
  • Soluble in water, acetone and castor oil
  • Claimed to be the most resistant to high humidity
  • Retard loss of aroma and act as preservative

2. Glycerin

Other name: Glycerol


  • Used as solvent, plasticizer, luricant and antimicrobial agent
  • A clear, colorless, odorless hygroscopic liquid

Effects to the skin:

  • 20-25% is used in moisturiser to treat dry skin conditions
  • Attract water and modulate phase behaviour of stratum corneum lipids by maintaining the liquid crystal state at low humidity
  • Form a ‘reservoir’
  • Speed up barrier recovery

3. Hyaluronan (Hyaluronic Acid)

Hyaluronan refers to Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate


  • The molecule binds water and functions as a lubricant between collagen and elastic fiber networks in the dermis during skin movement


  • Our skin is the largest reservoir of body hyaluronic acid, containing more than 50% of the total
  • A 2% aqueous solution of pure hyaluronic acid can hold the remaining 98% water composition tightly that it will be mistaken as a gel as it was picked up
  • High molecular weight – won’t penetrate deeper into the skin layer

4. Lactic Acid


  • Colorless to yellowish crystal or syrupy liquid
  • A type of Alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA)


  • LA reduces cohesion between corneocytes and interferes with the bonding between the cells. This causes an increment in cell turnover especially at pH around 3.
  • Uptake of water by sodium lactate is greater than lactic acid

5. Panthenol

Alcohol that is converted in tissues to pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5). Panthoten means everywhere.


  • Soluble in water, alcohol and glycerol
  • Sensitive to acid, base and heat


  • Widely used to moisturize and soothe
  • 2% Panthenol is used in sunburn and wound healing treatment
  • Penetrate the skin to be transformed into pantothenic acid

6. PCA and Salts

Full name: 2-pyrrolidone-5-carboxylic acid


  • 5% sodium PCA increases the water-holding capacity
  • Sodium PCA is a naturally occurring humectant in SC

7. Sorbitol

Hexahydric alcohol appears as a white crystalline powder, odorless, and has a fresh and remove taste.


  • Occur naturally in fruit and vegetables and is prepared commercially through reduction of glucose

8. Urea

A colorless, transparent, slightly hygroscopic, odorless, or white crystalline powder or pellet. Naturally occurring in human tissues, blood, and urine.


  • Use in lower concentration for dry skin treatment
  • An increased water-holding capacity is observed after using urea-containing cream
  • Efficiently speed up the penetration of different substances
  • Moisturizer with urea reduced TEWL in atopic patients

Wow! We can see there are a lot of interesting humectants available as cosmetic ingredients! Tell me, who doesn’t want well-hydrated skin with long-lasting hydration?!

If you’re searching for a local skincare product with powerful humectants, ZarZou Brightening and Hydrating Facial Serum can drench your skin with 2% Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin! You will notice your skin will look plump, supplied with enough hydration, and of course, healthy skin!

Grab one Brightening and Hydrating Facial Serum (BHS) today at our store online. May you achieve healthy, well-hydrated skin after including BHS in your skincare routine!


Loden, M. (2001). Hydrating substances. Handbook of cosmetic science and technology, 347-360.

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