In the skin-care world, there are a few buzzy ingredients that tend to get all the credit for hydrating your complexion. Hyaluronic acid is lauded for its ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, ceramides are known as the “building blocks” of your complexion, and pros have referred to squalane as the “big gulp” of moisturizers. In other words, there are a lot of options out there to choose from when it comes to dealing with dry skin. But according to Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Connecticut, if you’re going to pick just one to stick with all winter, your best bet is to go back to basics and opt for glycerin.
In the latest episode of Dear Derm, she spills on the benefits of five of the most hydrating ingredients money can buy (the four mentioned above, plus vitamin E), but calls out glycerin as the one that deserves a place in everyone’s routine. You probably recognize the ingredient as being one of the main elements that comprises hand soap, but what you may not realize is that it’s also commonly present in cleansers and moisturizers because it’s a humectant.
“Humectants attract water to the skin,” explains Dr. Gohara, adding that glycerin and hyaluronic acid both fall into this category. “And glycerin is not only so great at drawing water into the skin, but it’s also super gentle, which is why you’ll see it in a ton of products. I personally think that glycerin is the one ingredient that’s good for everyone. It’s no bells and whistles, we know it works, and everybody should have it.”
She suggests adding a glycerin-based moisturizer into your routine, like The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factor + HA ($7), which combines glycerin and hyaluronic acid for a humectant one-two punch. You can also get your daily dose of the hydrating ingredient with a cleanser, like Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser ($9).
Of course, glycerin is only one of the skin-care world’s many, many, hydrating heroes. To learn about the rest of them—and why it might be worth adding those into your routine, too—check out the video above.