Benefits of Glycerin In Cosmetics

glycerin molecular structure

Glycerin is one of the most used ingredients in skincare products. Just have a look at those in your stash and you’ll find that almost all of them contain high concentrations of Glycerin. And lately, this ingredient is slowly finding its way into haircare products too. But why is Glycerin used so much? What does it do?

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin, also called Glycerine and Glycerol, is a substance present in all human and animal fats. It can be derived naturally by the fermentation of sugars or hydrolysis (decomposition of a chemical compound by reaction with water) of fats, but it can be also synthetically made in a lab.

What does Glycerin do?

Glycerin is a humectant: it has the ability to draw water from the environment and the dermis (the lower layers of skin) into the outer (surface) layers of the skin. It also helps keep the skin’s natural barrier intact. Because of this, Glycerin helps keep skin moisturized and soft, preventing dryness. And it doesn’t just work on skin, it has the same benefits on hair too.

In addition, Glycerin helps protect hair when exposed to the heat of styling tools and, according to the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists (pg 39-52 1985), Glycerin, by increasing moisture content in hair, helps prevent premature breakage. This is especially true for people with natural African hair as the kinky structure of this type of hair makes it harder to comb and style it, thus leading to more damage and breakage. However, it only works if your hair is relaxed. Otherwise, the same benefits don’t apply.

The problem with Glycerin and how to avoid it

As I mentioned above, Glycerin has the ability to draw moisture from the dermis into the surface of the skin. And once there, this moisture could potentially evaporate into the environment, causing skin to become dry. Pure and undiluted Glycerin left on the skin for too long can actually cause blisters! Not too mention that high concentrations of Glycerin can feel sticky on the skin and who likes to use sticky products, especially when they could dry skin? For these reasons, Glycerin is usually used in skincare products in concentrations up to 10% mixed with other ingredients such as emollients and oils that too soften and moisturize skin. This way, you can enjoy its benefits without problems!

What do you think of Glycerin? Do you like using products with it?

18 Comment

    • Makeup Morsels, aww I’m so glad to hear that. It’s too important to know what ingredients do. :)

    • Tammy, glycerin is an amazing ingredient, moisturizing but non-comedogenic. Too much of it can be drying but properly-formulated products won’t cause any problems. :)

    • Janessa, I’m glad you learned a lot through my blog. It’s really important to know more about the science of beauty so we can choose the best products for our skin. :)

      • Most definitely! I pick products because of their ingredients after learning about them through your blog. :] Reading your replies brighten my day! I’m always so excited to read them because you sincerely reply and say more than just ‘thank you for reading’ or ‘thank you’ or ‘ty’ haha. You should really know that it’s very wonderful of you to take so much time into this. I’m sure other readers feel the same way! Makes us want to keep commenting! At least for me. ;D
        Janessa´s last blog post ..Perfect Nude Liner for ALL Skin ColorsMy Profile

        • That’s wonderful that you’re paying more attention to the ingredient you use now, your skin will thank you! And you’re always so sweet. It really makes my day every time I receive a comment from a reader, and it’s a pleasure to reply to them too. I hope my replies will help you or just make you smile and make visiting the blog a better experience for you all.

  1. I really enjoy glycerin in all my cosmetics. I strongly recommend it to anybody using cream or soap to use the one that contains glycerin.

  2. Is there proof that glycerin extracts water from the dermis of the skin? I was unaware of this and think its a disadvantage to draw moisture from the inner layers of the skin. Can you be sure this is true? Do you have any evidence of this?
    Louise´s last blog post ..Braologie Giveaway Winners!My Profile

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