We have a saying in Italy: “It’s like parsley.” It means, “It’s everywhere”.
Well, Glycerin is like parsley. It’s in almost all your skincare products.
Don’t take my word for it. Have a look in your stash. Chances are 90% of your beloved lotions and potions are loaded with Glycerin.
But, why? Why is Glycerin everywhere while other ingredients are so hard to find (yes, BHA, I’m looking at you).
What The Heck is Glycerin?
Glycerin goes by many names. Some call it Glycerine. Others Glycerin. It’s all the same thing. But, what?
Glycerin is a thick, gelatinous liquid that’s present in all human and animal fats. For skincare products, it can be derived naturally by the fermentation of sugar or hydrolysis (decomposition of a chemical by reaction with water) or fats, but it can also be made in a lab.
What does Glycerin do?
Glycerin is a humectant. That’s a fancy way to say it attracts water into the skin. But where does it take this water from? Two places:
- The environment (moisture in the air)
- The dermis (the deeper layers of your skin)
This infuses your skin with a waterfall of moisture. The more moisture your skin has, the softer it feels and the plumper it looks. Bye bye, dryness!
I know this is a skincare blog, but since we’re talking about glycerin, let me tell you what it does for your hair: it protects it from the heat of styling tools.
Glycerin infuses hair with moisture so it doesn’t break as easily. This is a godsend for natural African hair. Its kinky structure makes it harder to style and more prone to damage and breakage. Glycerin can often save the day (but only if your hair is relaxed).
Does Glycerin Have Any Side Effects?
Yep. Remember when I told you that Glycerin can draw water from the dermis? That’s a problem.
When Glycerin attracts moisture from the air, it’s all good. Air loses moisture. Your skin gains it. Everyone wins.
But when there’s not enough moisture in the air? Then Glycerin must steal it from the deeper layers of the skin. And that dries it out. 🙁
The Bottom Line
When the weather’s good, Glycerin’s your skin’s BFF. It keeps it soft. Smooth. Hydrated. But when there’s no humidity in the air, go easy on Glycerin.
What do you think of Glycerin? Share your thoughts in the comments below.