Glycerin is like parsley. It’s everywhere. Pretty much 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.
Why? What makes Glycerin omnipresent while other ingredients are so hard to find (yes, BHA, I’m looking at you).
What Is Glycerin?
Glycerin goes by many names. Some call it Glycerine. Others Glycerol. I call it Glycerin. Either way, it’s the same thing: a thick, gelatinous liquid found in all natural fats (plant, animal, and human).
The glycerin in your skincare products 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.
Either way, it’s both safe and effective.
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How Does Glycerin Benefits Skin?
Glycerin is a humectant. That’s a fancy way to say it attracts water from the environment into the skin and binds it there. Why this matters?
Moisture is the foundation of healthy, younger-looking skin. When skin has all the moisture it needs, it looks and feels better. And Glycerin does provide it with a waterfall of moisture.
Here’s what happens when you use glycerin:
- It banishes dryness: It increases your skin’s hydration levels, making it feel super soft and supple and preventing flaking.
- It boosts your skincare routine: Well-hydrated skin is more permeable. That means those precious actives in your lotions and potions more easily penetrate skin, so they work better and faster.
- It helps treat psoriasis and dermatitis: Strengthening your skin’s barrier is key in healing these conditions.
- It reduces the appearance of wrinkles: Moisture plumps up fine lines and wrinkles, so they look smaller to the naked eye (but the effect is only temporary).
- It strengthens the skin’s protective barrier: This barrier keeps moisture in and germs, pollutants, and other skin enemies out. By reinforcing it, glycerin helps protect your skin from irritations.
FYI, glycerin is a godsend for dry skin, but everyone can use it. Because it mimics your skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF, a.k.a. your skin’s barrier), it hydrates all skin types without causing breakouts or irritations.
Can Glycerin Dry Out Skin?
Remember when I mentioned that glycerin draws moisture from the environment into the skin?
In humid weather, glycerin draws this moisture from the environment, i.e. the air, around you. But most of the time, glycerin “robs” moisture from the dermis (the deeper layers of your skin) and gives it to the surface layers.
Isn’t that drying as hell?
Not really. Here’s why: your skin is made up of 60% water. Rather than leaving your skin without moisture, glycerin simply takes the moisture available and redistributes it around.
Only if your skin has very little moisture to begin with, this can be a problem. But that’s why I don’t recommend you use glycerin alone – especially if you have dry skin.
While oily skin benefits from humectants (like glycerin only), most skin types need to use it together with occlusive emollients, like natural oils, that seal this moisture in and keeps it into your skin.
Most moisturisers out there contain a mix of both. Problem solved.
What Are The Best Skincare Products With Glycerin?
- CeraVe PM Facial Moisturising Lotion ($15.99): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique, and Ulta
- Niod Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex ($25.00): available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
- Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($46.00): available at Dermstore, Paula’s Choice and Selfridges
- Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream ($33.00): available at Dermstore, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice
- The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90): available at Asos, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
The Bottom Line
Glycerin is a must for all skin types. It delivers a waterfall of moisture to the skin that helps to keep it soft, supple, and hydrated for hours – without causing irritations or breakouts.
What do you think of Glycerin? Share your thoughts in the comments below.