Look at the ingredient label of almost any skincare product in your toolkit and you’ll see glycerin listed there. So what exactly is this wonder ingredient? Glycerin or glycerol is an odorless, clear liquid that’s present in most natural plant and animal fats, including those in your own skin. Commercial glycerin is made from natural products like vegetable oils or synthesized via propylene alcohol. This ubiquitous ingredient then makes its way into most soaps and skincare products. Here’s exactly how glycerin can help your skin. Just be sure to pick a plant-based glycerin instead of a chemical-derived one and make the most of the following benefits.
1. Hydrates Skin
Glycerin is a natural humectant. This means that when it’s applied to your skin, it attracts moisture to the upper layer. It can, therefore, help maintain your skin’s barrier and prevent dry and flaky skin. There is, however, a caveat when you use it as a moisturizer. Glycerin draws moisture to the surface of the skin from wherever it finds it. And when the environment is humid, it may draw moisture out of the atmosphere (what’s called hygroscopicity). However, if the atmosphere is dry, it may pull out moisture from deeper layers of your skin and bring it to the surface, from where it can be dissipated. While this will still keep your skin looking moisturized and plump, it can mean a loss of hydration at deeper skin layers. This problem can largely be tackled by using glycerin along with an occlusive emollient, that is, waxy or oily substances such as beeswax, cocoa butter, or grapeseed oil that can block the evaporation of moisture from the surface of your skin.1
2. Is Suitable For Acne-Prone Skin
If you are prone to acne, you may be wary of using skincare products that can clog up your pores. Oily skin is an easy target for acne as plugged skin pores and bacteria that grow there are the root cause of pimples. So greasy skincare products are a strict no-no for those with acne. Glycerin will work well for you in such a scenario because it is non-comedogenic and won’t block your skin pores.2 3
3. Helps Tackle Psoriasis
Psoriasis, a skin disorder which causes red, thick, and scaly skin, affects more than 3% of Americans.4 Glycerin can help people with this condition by signaling skin cells to work and mature properly. Normally, young skin cells in deeper skin layers whose main function is replicating will move up to become mature surface cells and make the skin’s protective barrier. But in people with psoriasis, skin cells grow or replicate too much. Glycerin can work as a signal to modulate this process by helping direct these cells through normal stages of maturity, essentially telling them it’s time to stop growing and become mature. The hydrating property of glycerin can also help people with this condition since psoriasis is made worse by dry skin.5
id="4-helps-heal-wounds">4. Helps Heal Wounds
Glycerin has also been found to help with wound healing and can be used on minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. For instance, if you have sore nipples from breastfeeding, using a glycerin dressing pad between nursings may quicken healing by keeping your skin moist.6 7
5. Soothes Irritated Skin
Many things can irritate your skin – think soaps and cosmetics! But glycerin has anti-irritant properties. One study induced irritation by washing the arms of volunteers with nonanoic acid and sodium lauryl sulfate. When glycerin was applied immediately afterward, it was able to reduce the irritant effect of both these substances.8
id="incorporate-glycerin-into-your-skincare-regimen">Incorporate Glycerin Into Your Skincare Regimen
Here are a couple of ideas on glycerin combos that can do wonders for your skin!
- Honey Glycerin Skin Moisturizer: Use honey and glycerin to make a simple moisturizer. Thoroughly blend 1 part honey with 9 parts of glycerin. Dab and smooth this over your skin for a supple complexion. You can even use this overnight.9
- Glycerin, Rosewater, And Witch Hazel Cream: Mix 4 ounces of rosewater and glycerin each with 8 ounces of witch hazel for a soothing face cream. Glycerin is moisturizing while the addition of anti-inflammatory witch hazel and fragrant and soothing rosewater make this one potent face fixer!10
|↑1||Moisturizers: Do they work?.
|↑3||D’Angelo, Janet M. Milady standard esthetics: fundamentals. Milady Cengage Learning, 2012.|
|↑4||Itchy, Scaly Skin?. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑5||Qin, Haixia, Xiangjian Zheng, Xiaofeng Zhong, Anita K. Shetty, Peter M. Elias, and Wendy B. Bollag. “Aquaporin-3 in keratinocytes and skin: Its role and interaction with phospholipase D2.” Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 508, no. 2 (2011): 138-143.|
|↑6||Fluhr, J. W., R. Darlenski, and C. Surber. “Glycerol and the skin: holistic approach to its origin and functions.” British Journal of Dermatology 159, no. 1 (2008): 23-34.|
|↑7||Huggins, Kathleen. Nursing Mother’s Companion-: The Breastfeeding Book Mothers Trust, from Pregnancy through Weaning. Harvard Common Press, 2015.|
|↑8||Andersen, Flemming, Kathryn Hedegaard, Thomas Kongstad Petersen, Carsten Bindslev-Jensen, Ann Fullerton, and Klaus Ejner Andersen. “Comparison of the effect of glycerol and triamcinolone acetonide on cumulative skin irritation in a randomized trial.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 56, no. 2 (2007): 228-235.|
|↑9||Lawson, Donna. Prevention’s guide to looking fit & fabulous at forty-plus. Rodale Press, 1987.|
|↑10||Yankee Books. My Favorite Yankee Miracles: 1,001 Quick Fixes, Crazy Potions & Can’t-Miss Cures for Home & Garden. Rodale , 2005.|