Benefits of Glycerin In Cosmetics

by Gio
glycerin skincare benefits

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).

Let’s investigate:

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).

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Glycerin?

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. πŸ™

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.



Dee May 24, 2011 - 8:37 pm

I love using glycerin as a mixing medium with pigments. It helps them to really stick and makes it extremely vibrant!

beautifulwithbrains May 25, 2011 - 10:47 am

Dee, I love using it like that too. It really improves the color payoff of eyeshadows. πŸ™‚

Makeup Morsels May 25, 2011 - 5:45 am

I didn’t know about the side effects of too much glycerin, although I did know about its properties and chemical structure! Thanks for another cool ingredients post πŸ™‚ I feel so much more knowledgeable when I look at labels now.

beautifulwithbrains May 25, 2011 - 10:48 am

Makeup Morsels, aww I’m so glad to hear that. It’s too important to know what ingredients do. πŸ™‚

Tammy May 26, 2011 - 6:22 am

I’ve known about the benefits of glycerin, but I didn’t know there were negative effects as well. I love glycerin in my products because it keeps my skin moisturized without breaking me out.

beautifulwithbrains May 26, 2011 - 3:01 pm

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. πŸ™‚

Janessa April 22, 2012 - 12:43 am

I never thought of having too much glycerin! But now I see that a too high concentration is a big nono. I have learned more about beauty science through your blog than anywhere else! πŸ˜€

beautifulwithbrains April 22, 2012 - 7:42 pm

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. πŸ™‚

Janessa April 23, 2012 - 1:40 am

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

beautifulwithbrains April 23, 2012 - 6:07 am

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.

El-harun Isa June 15, 2012 - 8:27 am

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.

beautifulwithbrains June 16, 2012 - 11:11 am

El-harun Isa, it’s a wonderful ingredient, isn’t it?

Louise March 11, 2013 - 3:52 pm

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?

beautifulwithbrains March 11, 2013 - 10:00 pm

Louise, yes, glycerin can draw moisture from the dermis, but only in low humidity conditions. You also have to consider that glycerin isn’t used alone. When used with occlusive ingredients that create a barrier on the skin, it will prevent the moisture it draws from evaporating. In any case, the risk of glycerin drying out your skin is really low. You can find out more about it here:

Rita August 30, 2014 - 2:04 pm

how much glycerin should i add to my body cream

Gio September 2, 2014 - 8:42 pm

Rita, just a few drops should be enough. If you add to me, you’ll get an unpleasant sticky feeling.

Rita September 2, 2014 - 10:05 pm

ook thnx soo much

Gio September 3, 2014 - 2:34 pm

You’re welcome. πŸ™‚

Cat September 7, 2016 - 1:30 am

Hi Gio! This is an interesting read. I never thought glycerin had negative effects too. I just bought a whole bottle because I am thinking of making DIY sheet masks (glycerin, non-alcohol toner/lotion, essence/serum, facial oil). I will make sure not to add too much! πŸ™‚

Gio September 27, 2016 - 9:23 pm

Cat, it seems so innocent, doesn’t it? But too much of a good thing is never a good thing. πŸ™‚

Grace Esan September 23, 2016 - 6:04 pm

can I mix glycerine with argan fair and white gold oil nd use it as body cream?

Gio November 24, 2016 - 11:50 am

Grace, I’ve never tried this combination but I think it should be ok.

Mel December 22, 2016 - 3:48 am

Hello so I’m searching online and trying to figure out what to do? So I just purchased pressed glitters from a company and on the pallet the ingredients say glycerin and I have heard of lime crime having a mold issue and I’m just worried for that happening but what actually got me looking into the ingredients was if it’s acually cosmetic glitter and not craft glitter so what should I do or does anyone know what I should do?

Gio December 22, 2016 - 8:06 pm

Mel, mold happens when the product has a poor preservative system or it’s so old, the preservatives have stopped working. Does the manufacturer say whether it can be used on the eyes or not? Even so, if you don’t 100% trust the manufacturer or seller, don’t put it on yourself. Better be safe than sorry.


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