What are humectants (prounounced (h)yo͞oˈmektənt), and why are they important to the health of your skin? The simple answer is: They are hygroscopic substances, meaning they help to attract moisture from the surrounding air. When used in cosmetics and soaps, shampoos or conditioners they help to draw moisture to the skin and hair and lock it in. They have the ability to trap moisture against the epidermis or hair. Look for ingredients like glycerin, propylene glycol, hyaluronic acid or honey in moisturizers, hair care products and lip balm.