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What’s the difference between Humectants, Emollients & Occlusives?

November 10, 2021
Home / Glow School / What’s the difference between Humectants, Emollients & Occlusives?

Have you heard of humectants, emollients and occlusives before, but don’t know what they actually do?


Essentially, they are the three types of moisturising ingredients that you’ll find in different products in your skincare routine. They should be applied in order of thinnest to thickest: humectants, emollients and finally, occlusives to lock in all of that goodness.




Humectants attract and pull water into the epidermis layer of the skin, either from the air or from the deeper layers of the dermis, to rehydrate the skin’s surface.


You’ve probably heard of Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid, right? They’re two of the most common humectants used in skincare (along with Lactic Acids), and you’ll find them in our Brightening Booster Double-action Vitamin C Serum, ThemGenes Daily Resculpting Serum and GoLightly Plump & Protect Day Cream.

#TBT Age Defying Daily Serum



Emollients are a little richer and thicker than humectants. They soften and smooth skin by repairing any damage on the skin’s surface. They work by filling the gaps between cells, which visibly improves the appearance of dry skin. Impressive, huh?


Common emollients are lipids, certain oils and fatty acids. You can get water-based emollients (lighter in texture) and oil-based emollients (heavier in texture) which generally come in the form of creams, balms and lotions.




Occlusives act as a physical barrier to lock in moisture and prevent water loss from your skin’s surface, which is why they generally have a heavier consistency. They sit on the surface of your skin, and help to strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier.


Things like silicones, oils and waxes (like beeswax or carnauba) are your most common occlusives, and you can find them in face oils or creams. That’s why we recommend using SuperSuper Face Oil as the last step in your skincare routine!

SuperSuper Face Oil

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