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Hey there! Let’s talk about skincare (of course). Today we’re getting into the nitty-gritty details of glycerin. Well, I should say the super smooth and hydrating details.
For anyone living in a climate that is easing out of Summer and into the cooler months, extra hydration should be at the top of your beauty list. Cold and wind can whip the moisture right out of your skin, leaving you feeling (and looking) dull and dry.
That’s where glycerin comes in…
What is Glycerin?
Without getting too scientific, glycerin is a compound found in sources such as vegetables and animal fat. Cosmetic glycerin (glycerol) comes from vegetable sources such as coconut oil and soy.
The process of making glycerin is quite complicated (for science novices, at least!). It involves placing oils under a pressurized environment to force the glycerin to separate out from the fats in the oil.
Where is it Found in Skin Care?
Glycerin is found in everything from cleansers to moisturizers. You can find glycerin in serums, cleansing balms, primers, moisturizers, and hydrating sprays. Glycerin is a favorite skincare ingredient for many brands as it is non-comedogenic and won’t clog your pores (phew!).
Glycerin soaps are widely used by people with very sensitive and irritable skin, (even soft baby skin!) due to the gentleness and softening properties of glycerin.
Glycerin is often used in cosmetics to help with the absorption of key ingredients…but more on this below. What’s more, you will always find glycerin listed alongside water, as it works best when formulated with plenty of water (otherwise it will find the water in your skin, resulting in dryness…not what we want!).
Note: the first ingredients listed in skin care ingredient lists are the key ingredients in the product. If you see “glycerin” listed as one of the first few ingredients, it means that the skin care product has a decent percentage of glycerin per usage. If it’s way down the bottom of the list? There’s not a lot of glycerin hiding in there.
What are the Skin Care Benefits of Glycerin?
It’s a humectant…
This is, in my opinion, the best and most important benefit of glycerin. A humectant is something that attracts water to itself. It works hard to prevent moisture loss in the skin and locks that all-important hydration in tight. This means that glycerin-based moisturizers don’t simply sit on top of your skin for superficial hydration. Instead, they penetrate the skin and welcome hydration into deeper layers, resulting in glowier, plumper and more comfortable skin for longer.
It helps other products work their magic…
Because glycerin attracts water to the skin, it paves the way for other ingredients to be absorbed into the skin along with the water. The increased hydration makes the skin more open and susceptible to welcoming other nourishing ingredients to sink deep into the skin. This is one of the reasons why you will see glycerin high on the list of ingredients in skincare which features a specific active ingredient.
It plumps, softens and “youthifies” the skin…
Hey, there’s no shame in longing for smooth, soft and young-looking skin past a certain age! You can still love your changing visage as well as cultivate youthful and full-looking skin. Because glycerin is a humectant (i.e. hydrating) it keeps the top layer of the skin full of water, therefore plumping out the appearance and preventing dry, scaly skin. The bottom line is that hydrated, nourished skin will always look younger and fresher, no matter how deep the lines and wrinkles!
It builds a protective barrier…
The outer layer of our skin has a physical barrier called a hydrolipidic film. This film keeps the deeper layers of skin safe from damage, chemicals, pollution and UV rays. When our protective layer becomes worse for wear, we become open to irritants, dryness, discomfort, and experience duller, less luscious skin. Basically, the protective barrier is like a bodyguard for our deeper, more vulnerable skin layers, blocking nasty substances from getting through.
Glycerin plumps up our protective layer, hydrating the cells and allowing them to be strong, healthy, and connected. This is why glycerin-based cleansers are great, as they don’t strip the outer layer as certain harsh, over-zealous cleansers can do.
It helps the skin to heal and repair…
Studies have shown that glycerin can help the skin to repair and heal, especially from certain skin issues such as psoriasis. It does this by encouraging new skin cells to grow. What’s more, glycerin can actually help to protect the skin from bacteria, reducing the occurrence of infections and acne. Because glycerin is so gentle and hydrating, it can really reduce itchiness and irritation, helping you to leave your skin alone, allowing it to heal and repair faster.
It’s great for oily and acne-prone skin as well as dry skin…
Caring for oily or acne-prone skin can be really tricky, especially when the skin is inflamed or irritated. You want to get that super clean feeling…without stripping the skin to the point where it feels dry and scaly as well as oily.
Glycerin cleansers remove excess oils and dirt while protecting the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The skin feels clean, yet hydrated, comfortable and nourished.
Skin in the midst of a breakout can be sore and sensitive. Glycerin gently cleanses without causing soreness, itchiness, burning or general discomfort. Hooray for that!
Is it safe for everyone?
The truth is, nothing is safe for everyone. Everyone has vastly different skin types and tolerances. Some people react to the most gentle of ingredients, while others can handle almost anything. In saying that, glycerin is considered a gentle, low-risk ingredient. If you’ve never used glycerin before, (or you’re unsure if you have) try a patch test to be totally sure that your skin loves it.
Our Favorite Glycerin Skincare Products
“The No-Brainer Set” by The Ordinary: we love this set because you get a moisturizer, a serum and a retinol emulsion – three stellar products for soft, hydrated, younger and more nourished skin. The serum and emulsion both have glycerin listed as their second ingredient after water. The moisturizer lists glycerin at sixth on the list, still great! The Ordinary is an affordable and super effective brand.
“Easy Does it Cleanser” by One Love Organics: we love this cleanser because it has glycerin as the second ingredient after water. It is a non-drying foaming face cleanser that can be used every day. The Easy does it cleanser is super gentle, smells fresh, removes makeup with barely any effort (even eye makeup), and leaves skin totally clean.
After our exploration of glycerin as a skincare ingredient, we’re sold. We love anything that packs our skin with hydration, keeps us soothed and comfy, and cleanses without stripping our moisture barrier.
Glycerin is not an expensive ingredient, which means many of the best glycerin-based skincare products are deliciously affordable.
We hope this article enlightened you! Let us know if you’re a glycerin lover, and if so, tell us about your favorite glycerin skincare products!