Let's compare humectants!

What are your favorites and why? 

Comments

  • Sodium Lactate. More hygroscopic than glycerin, probably the least sticky of all I tried. On the negative side, it’s a salt - can’t be used with polymeric thickeners based on acrylic acid (carbomers, aristoflex avc etc). Butylene Glycol for sensitive materials. Less sticky than glycerin, compatible with many ingredients, preservative booster (reduces water activity). What I couldn’t find my way around is isopentyldiol. Had huge expectations (it was told to dissolve SA better than propylene glycol) but it disappointed me. Exploring urea currently.
  • edited June 2020
    @ngarayeva001

    I need to start wearing a mask when I formulate with SL, I can taste salt for hours. 
    Never heard of isopentyldiol....what is SA?
  • ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
    edited June 2020
    Oh, you mean powder! I have never bought it for some reason. I use a liquid which is usually  60%. Isopentyldiol is a glycol, I just fell after supplier’s info again. If someone thinks it’s a good material and I am wrong please let me know. It’s more expensive than propylene glycol but I couldn’t see any difference. SA is salicylic acid.
  • Hmmmm any benefit using liquid SL over powder? 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Glycerin. Price, compatibility, effectiveness...it's hard to beat.
  • My general approach is that is someone had predisperced that I would rather get a liquid form. Had negative experience with trying to dissolve things myself (tried to dissolve trimethylsiloxysilicate in isododecane to save money: never again). Also as you noticed powders are floating around in the air and I hate wearing masks.
  • I agree with Perry, it's hard to beat glycerin - I've seen some decent data for Betaine but it was provided by a supplier so it's to be taken with a pinch of salt. Seems to work quite nicely though and it lowers the tack if you use it in combination with glycerin.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    I also like choline (though the fishy smell is quite pronounced :disappointed: )... weird enough that in some countries (Canada, if memory serves me right) it is still not allowed in cosmetics due to some old and false data..
    Proline is also nice but very pricey.
    Did someone already mention sorbitol (not my favourite but way less tacky, nice in hydroalcoholic gels)?
    I usually use blends to reduce unwanted effects.
  • I bought sorbitol recently but can’t decide whether I like it or not. Btw betaine helps with dissolving SA a little. I know I sound like dissolving SA is my biggest problem 😂
  • Do you guys test a humectant on its own in water first before adding anything to it to see if you like the feel? I am guessing the feel will change as you add more ingredients. 
  • I have quite a few different humectants, though normally i'd just use in combination of Glycerin + Betaine. Addition of Trehalose if i'm feeling fancy.

    The glycols / diols make my face tingle a little, so i try not to use them too much or often. For other sugars, i have Aquaxyl, Sorbitol, Erythritol as well. I can't really use Urea since it kind of exfoliates me too much.  


  • In addition to the ngarayeva001's suggestions I would add Pentylene Glycol, Sucrose Stearate, Inulin. I am in love in the Inulin, ofcourse I can't prove its efficacy, but the feeling when in the emulsion has the Inulin is fantastic!


  • ifamujifamuj Member
    I agree with Perry, it's hard to beat glycerin - I've seen some decent data for Betaine but it was provided by a supplier so it's to be taken with a pinch of salt. Seems to work quite nicely though and it lowers the tack if you use it in combination with glycerin.
    What combo seems to work best for you?
  • what about aquaxyl+glycerin combo.
  • ZinkZink Member
    How about Saccharide Isomerate? 
  • czkldczkld Member
    Zink said:
    How about Saccharide Isomerate? 
    It's not really that amazing, the only data I saw was by DSM, which is the manufacturer. Also, it's expensive.. I might use it for "omg 72h hydration your mother will be shocked" claims but glycerin is always there for you and it costs next to nothing
  • I been trying a few different humectants lately...

    Erythritol leaves a horrible tackiness.. I really didn’t like it.

    Betaine doesn't leave as comforting a feel as glycerin. The hydrated moistness of the skin doesn't last as long as with glycerin (it evaporates off shortly after) and it has a sort of sliminess when the skin is rinsed later. 

    I bought some sodium lactate liquid but it felt very tacky on the skin when I tried it neat... more so than neat glycerin (to me anyway). It's less thick, but there is still a tacky afterfeel that doesn't go away.

    Floraesters K-20W Hydrolysed Jojoba Esters helps to reduce glycerin tack and reduce the amount of glycerin needed (thanks for the tip @Graillotion - I tried it before but got much better results this time by using it properly).  But it hasn't solved my problem completely.

    I already have panthenol and pentylene glycol in the formulation (cream for dry skin), but the former is sticky and the latter expensive.

    Glycerin just has a more comforting feel for my dry skin than the above mentioned materials. But at high concentration, it's thick, has an initial tack until absorbed and has a funny smell (at least, the organic one I have from Alexmo has a slight, what people would describe as a "chemical" smell.. which I can't remember if it was there in the non-organic glycerin I had previously from Alexmo).

    I am thinking of trying sorbitol next. @ngarayeva001, @Pharma, what do you like/dislike about sorbitol? And is powder or liquid preferable?

    I saw here that ethylhexylglycerin can mitigate some of the downsides of glycerin. Are there any other ingredients like this?
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    IMHO sorbitol doesn't last as long as glycerol but is less tacky. Can't comment on the moisture performance.
    I prefer xylitol over sorbitol but for other reasons than humectancy.
    I usually work with dry/pure ingredients.
  • Pharma said:
    IMHO sorbitol doesn't last as long as glycerol but is less tacky. Can't comment on the moisture performance.
    I prefer xylitol over sorbitol but for other reasons than humectancy.
    I usually work with dry/pure ingredients.
    @Pharma Thanks, that's useful. How does sorbitol compare to betaine for you? Does it last longer?
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Don't know. Never ran them against each other.
    I like to play with combinations especially with betaine & polyols or urea. Can't comment further because I'm still in the middle of playing :) .
  • I couldn’t find many tables comparing hygroscopic properties of humectants, and unfortunately without it all our discussions is nothing but anecdotal evidence. I feel most of humectants are very similar. Sodium lactate is the least tacky, butylene and propylene glycol are the most versatile and compatible with other  materials,  (again just my own anecdotal perception), glycerin is cheap and effective for dry skin (not aesthetically pleasing but I tend to use it a lot) and urea is quite interesting, although I am still in the process of taming it. Betaine isn’t special in my opinion. Agree with Pharma, that mixing is the best approach. I always use several because they all perform optimally at different humidity.
  • hanbithanbit Member
    @ngarayeva001I noticed that you’re a big fan of sodium lactate (saw you mentioned it several times in another thread). I tried adding 3% of sodium lactate to my emulsion, and it doesn’t smell great (sea salt + stale smell combined, I’m not great at describing smell though, but it is not a pleasant smell). The scent did go away after a minute or so but i’m wondering is there a way to mask of the scent without using any fragrances. What is your experiences though?
  • hanbithanbit Member
    hanbit said:
    @ngarayeva001I noticed that you’re a big fan of sodium lactate (saw you mentioned it several times in another thread). I tried adding 3% of sodium lactate to my emulsion, and it doesn’t smell great (sea salt + stale smell combined, I’m not great at describing smell though, but it is not a pleasant smell). The scent did go away after a minute or so but i’m wondering is there a way to mask of the scent without using any fragrances. What is your experiences though?
    I did like the way it felt on my skin. And i tried it plain as well, and it definitely surpass glycerin and other glycols in terms of skin feel and moisture. It felt very hydrating without any tackiness (but smells awful)
  • hanbit said:
    hanbit said:
    @ngarayeva001I noticed that you’re a big fan of sodium lactate (saw you mentioned it several times in another thread). I tried adding 3% of sodium lactate to my emulsion, and it doesn’t smell great (sea salt + stale smell combined, I’m not great at describing smell though, but it is not a pleasant smell). The scent did go away after a minute or so but i’m wondering is there a way to mask of the scent without using any fragrances. What is your experiences though?
    I did like the way it felt on my skin. And i tried it plain as well, and it definitely surpass glycerin and other glycols in terms of skin feel and moisture. It felt very hydrating without any tackiness (but smells awful)
    Are you using powder Sodium Lactate or liquid?
  • I use 60% liquid, but want to try powdered version too. I really like it but I also like carbomers and polymeric emulsifiers. Unfortunately these are not compatible with sodium lactate. If there’s one humectant that feels different (again as per my anecdotal experience) its sodium lactate. Re smell, it’s not that repulsive to me, so I kind of ignore it. Maybe I just got used to it, as it’s in the moisturizer I use everyday..
  • Btw I like sodium PCA too and I think it’s similar to lactate, but PCA is several times more expensive so lactate wins.
  • hanbithanbit Member
    emma1985 said:
    hanbit said:
    hanbit said:
    @ngarayeva001I noticed that you’re a big fan of sodium lactate (saw you mentioned it several times in another thread). I tried adding 3% of sodium lactate to my emulsion, and it doesn’t smell great (sea salt + stale smell combined, I’m not great at describing smell though, but it is not a pleasant smell). The scent did go away after a minute or so but i’m wondering is there a way to mask of the scent without using any fragrances. What is your experiences though?
    I did like the way it felt on my skin. And i tried it plain as well, and it definitely surpass glycerin and other glycols in terms of skin feel and moisture. It felt very hydrating without any tackiness (but smells awful)
    Are you using powder Sodium Lactate or liquid?
    I use 60% liquid as well
  • hanbithanbit Member
    edited July 2020
    I use 60% liquid, but want to try powdered version too. I really like it but I also like carbomers and polymeric emulsifiers. Unfortunately these are not compatible with sodium lactate. If there’s one humectant that feels different (again as per my anecdotal experience) its sodium lactate. Re smell, it’s not that repulsive to me, so I kind of ignore it. Maybe I just got used to it, as it’s in the moisturizer I use everyday..
    I am waiting for my sodium PCA to arrive, and yes the price difference is real. Will have to compare then. Does sodium PCA has an odor to it like sodium lactate does?
  • I've been using Zemea/Propanediol as the main humectant in moisturiser I'm trying out. Seems OK but I'm keen to try glycerine for a comparison.
  • @Pharma for what reasons you prefer xylitol over sorbitol? 
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    @Abdullah Lower melting point, lower viscosity of NADES and often higher flexibility as hydrogen bond donor, hence easier for me to work with ;) .
  • Another interesting one to add - Gobiotics preBIULIN AGA (inulin). I've only tried it at 2% in water, and not in a formulation. To me it is more hydrating, softening and long lasting than glycerin (against 2% glycerin in water), but there is a very slight sugary, sticky feel that develops after 10 minutes or so, whereas the 2% glycerin feels completely "clean" on the skin. I'm not sure it's usable due to the sticky feeling... I think I would still feel it even if used at <1%. It does seem to continue hydrating over time though, as per their marketing.
  • I use pure Inulin (Inutec) in my lotions at 2 - 3% and I've never noticed any traces of stickiness.

  • ggpetrov said:
    I use pure Inulin (Inutec) in my lotions at 2 - 3% and I've never noticed any traces of stickiness.

    Hi @ggpetrov, is "Inutec" the full name of the product you use? I couldn't find an inulin with that name... only "Inutec H25P" (substitute for cationic conditioning polymers) and "Inutec SL1" (stabiliser). I have Inutec H25P but it was also sticky. Thanks.
  • Yes, Inutec H25P
  • ggpetrov said:
    Yes, Inutec H25P
    Thanks, I will try Inutec H25P again then. I only briefly tried it mixed with water.. I didn't actually try it in an emulsion.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Does anyone know acetamidoethoxyethanol aka ElfaMoist?

  • Has anyone tried or have any feedback for Sodium Polyglutamate (Polyglutamic acid) or Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate? 
  • hanbit said:
    hanbit said:
    @ngarayeva001I noticed that you’re a big fan of sodium lactate (saw you mentioned it several times in another thread). I tried adding 3% of sodium lactate to my emulsion, and it doesn’t smell great (sea salt + stale smell combined, I’m not great at describing smell though, but it is not a pleasant smell). The scent did go away after a minute or so but i’m wondering is there a way to mask of the scent without using any fragrances. What is your experiences though?
    I did like the way it felt on my skin. And i tried it plain as well, and it definitely surpass glycerin and other glycols in terms of skin feel and moisture. It felt very hydrating without any tackiness (but smells awful)
    I wonder about the stability of the emulsion if I add sodium lactate at 2% since it is an electrolyte, my second concern is sodium lactate is a little exfoliant at 2% and wearing this cream and go under sun may give negative impact on skin, also I have a question could we add sodium lactate to shampoo formulations?
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