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The word "humectant" comes from the Latin word "humectare", meaning to moisten. And that is exactly what a humectant does. Humectants pull moisture from whatever they encounter. They can pull moisture from the air around them. When used in skincare, humectants can pull moisture from the lower levels of the skin. That moisture is brought to the skin's surface to moisturize the skin.  

Humectants bind water molecules to them, in what is called a hydroscopic effect. This basically means (and all you need to remember) that a humectant pulls moisture to itself.

Simply put, humectants attract water.

So when you use humectants on your skin, the humectant supports moisturizing (as long as you don't use too much of it). There are both natural and synthetic humectants available. Goat Milk Stuff uses only natural humectants to draw moisture to your skin. These natural ingredients enhance your skin's ability to hydrate itself.

Types of Humectants

There are several natural humectants you can find in soaps, cosmetics, and moisturizers. They include glycerin, honey, aloe vera, and lactic acid.

Glycerin is a Natural Humectant

Glycerin is also known as glycerol. It is a powerful humectant that is easily absorbed through the skin. Glycerin is a natural product derived from the chemical reaction that makes soap.

When you mix all the ingredients together to make soap, the key inputs are fatty acids and lye. These fatty acids (fats or oils) that you start with have glycerol in them. During the soap making process, the fatty acids mix with the lye, and the outputs are soap and glycerin. The glycerin is formed when the fatty acids release the glycerol.

In most commercial soaps, glycerin is removed and sold off as a valuable by-product. Cheaper synthetics like urea or lithium chloride are then added to the soap. These cheap, synthetic ingredients can be irritating to your skin. And they don't fully replace the moisturizing properties of the missing glycerin.

Our Goat Milk Soaps do not contain any synthetic humectants. Instead, they contain all the naturally occurring glycerin that is produced during soapmaking. This creates a moisturizing bar of soap that won't dry your skin.

Almond Goat Milk Soap
"My husband loves the almond scent. I love how soft his skin feels. He just asked me to order another bar!" 
- Vicki

We also don't add extra glycerin to our soaps. Naturally occurring glycerin helps moisturize your skin. But too much glycerin can actually draw too much moisture out of your lower skin levels. This can cause skin dryness instead of relieving it.

The glycerin in our natural Goat Milk Soaps is in perfect balance. You can trust that it will help your skin keep the right amount of moisture.

Lactic acid is a Natural Humectant

The lactic acid in skincare is often promoted for its ability to help remove dead skin cells. This leads to the uncovering of new cells on the surface of your skin. The result is that your skin is smoother and looks younger. Lactic acid does this by breaking down the bonds holding dead skin cells together. But lactic acid is also a humectant and aids in moisturizing your skin.

It is important to determine how much lactic acid to add to Goat Milk soap. Too little lactic acid and you don't remove enough dead skin cells. But too much lactic acid can irritate your skin. Goat milk contains lactic acid that is in natural and perfect balance. So by adding fresh, raw, whole goat milk to our Goat Milk Soaps, we know that the lactic acid quantity is just right.

The lactic acid in goat milk soap both cleans and moisturizes your skin. The exfoliating properties of lactic acid help break down the top layer of dead skin cells. Then the humectant properties of lactic acid draw moisture to fresh new cells. This helps to create soft and supple skin.  Soaps made with water often do not have this lactic acid benefit.

Honey is a Natural Humectant

Honey is a combination of fructose and glucose. It is another ingredient that both exfoliates and moisturizes. Both these forms of sugar are humectants. In fact, all sugars draw and hold moisture to them. We add honey to the Oatmeal Milk & Honey Goat Milk Soap. Because it contains glycerin, lactic acid, and honey, it is a humectant rich soap. This makes it a great choice for moisturizing your skin.

Oatmeal Milk & Honey goat milk soap
"I love how goat's milk soap makes my skin feel nourished and refreshed, not dried out. I really enjoy the scent of the Oatmeal Milk & Honey soap immensely." 
- Laurel

Aloe Vera is a Natural Humectant

Aloe plants are succulents, meaning they gorge water and hold it in their leaves. The juice of the aloe plant is often used as a natural humectant. Aloe juice or gel penetrates deep into the layers of skin and binds water to itself. This creates a naturally moist environment that is great for healing. For this reason, aloe is often used for sunburns. We add aloe to our Goat Milk Shaving Soap because it can provide extra moisture to skin that is chafed by shaving.

Unscented Goat Milk Shaving Soap
"Absolutely love! My husband and I both use safety razors and this soap glides so nice. Lathers up nicely. Smells amazing. Leaves our skin so soft!
We definitely recommend to everyone." 

- Carrie

Humectants vs Emollients and Occlusives

Humectants are not the only category of ingredients to aid in moisturizing your skin. There are two others as well.


Emollient means "to soften or soothe". Remember that a humectant pulls moisture to itself. In contrast, an emollient is designed to trap water on the skin and usually uses oils to do so. When the top layer of your skin dries out, it cracks. Emollients use lipids to fill the spaces between those cracked cells. Lipids are simply fatty substances such as shea butter or sunflower oil.


An occlusive is something that has retentive properties and prevents water loss. Occlusive ingredients include lanolin, mineral oil, silicones, and beeswax. If emollients are applied very heavily, they can act as an occlusive.

Your skin may often be bombarded by drying conditions such as hot weather, winter air, or an arid climate. If your skin is dry, a humectant will draw water to your skin. Emollients and occlusives will help your skin keep the water it drew.

Goat Milk Soaps

All our Goat Milk Soaps use glycerin and lactic acid as humectants to maintain the moisture in your skin. These natural soaps will clean your skin without drying it out.

Organic castile goat milk soap
"Leaves skin feeling clean, smooth and moisturized.
Thank you GMS!!"
- Aldina

Solid Goat Milk Lotions

If you are suffering from dry or cracking skin, you may need extra moisture. Adding Solid Goat Milk Lotion to your skin will provide the extra moisture it needs. The solid lotions contain ingredients that have emollient, occlusive, and humectant properties.

These are the ingredients in the red label Unscented Solid Goat Milk Lotion.

  • Soybean oil - Emollient
  • Beeswax - Occlusive
  • Sunflower oil - Emollient
  • Cocoa butter - Emollient
  • Shea butter - Occlusive
  • Dehydrated Goat Milk - Humectant
  • Vitamin E - Occlusive

The Solid Goat Milk Lotions contain emollients, occlusives, and a humectant. We designed the formula to include a combination of all three moisturizing actions. This creates an ideal moisturizer. You can trust your skin to the goodness of goat milk if you want healthy skin that is softer and smoother.

Unscented Solid Goat Milk Lotion Stick
"I am so excited to find Goat Milk Stuff & try the lotion stick! It's not like any lotion I have tried before & it leaves my skin soft without being greasy. It's so nice to use on my hands & not have lotion all over my jewelry. Also love it on my feet. Keeps me soft & moisturized all over!!!"
- Shirley

Have you noticed a difference in your skin after using Goat Milk Soaps and Solid Goat Milk Lotions? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Note: We have several different formulas in our soaps and lotions. This gives people with allergies or sensitivities some options. If you find your skin is still dry, try a different formula to see if that makes a difference. 

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