You may not be aware of it, but inside your skin care products there are all kinds of incredible ingredients working like mad so you can look your absolute best. They run around like busy little bees (sorry, we just can’t resist the comparison around here!), hydrating, exfoliating, cleaning--whatever needs to be done, they do it!
Some of them, like glycerin, do things you didn’t even know were possible. One of the skin care world’s best behind-the-scenes workers, glycerin does so much it’s hard to believe most of us aren’t banging down doors to get it. From providing moisture to cleaning the skin, glycerin is an amazing multi-tasker.
In this article, we’ll talk about what glycerin is, what it’s made of, 10 benefits of glycerin, what types of skin should use it, how to use glycerin for your skin, and other frequently asked questions about glycerin in skin care.
IN A NUTSHELL
Ingredient Category: Humectant
Main Benefit: Because glycerin is a humectant it draws water to the surface of the skin both from the deeper layers of skin, and from the atmosphere. This helps to keep your skin feeling hydrated.
What is glycerin? What is glycerin made of?
Glycerin is classified as a humectant which is basically a substance that helps retain moisture. Humectants help keep everything nice and moisturized without mucking up any of the other ingredients in the product. They’re like the people who stand at the sidelines of a marathon and hand cups of water to the participants—they keep everyone hydrated while staying out of the way of the runners.
This clear, odor-free liquid is a compound that has a sweet taste to it. In fact, you may know glycerin from food ingredients where it’s sometimes used as a sweetener or to keep food moist. Although there is such a thing as synthetic glycerin, the natural version, which is the one we use in our products, like our Crème de la Cream, is entirely plant-based.
Because of its versatility and ability to moisturize, it’s used in everything from lotions to soaps to toners.
10 Benefits of Glycerin
As we mentioned above, glycerin is one of those ingredients that performs a multitude of tasks. Although it’s often thought of as a moisturizer, that’s far from the only thing it does!
Here are 10 benefits of glycerin you may--or may not--be aware of!
- Glycerin moisturizes - Not only does glycerin moisturize the skin, it pulls moisture up from the lower levels of the skin (the dermis) to the upper levels (the epidermis), essentially allowing the skin to help moisturize itself.
- Glycerin creates a calming sensation - Plant-based glycerin is extraordinarily gentle on sensitive skin in particular and can help alleviate temporary skin discomfort.
- Glycerin tightens and firms - Use glycerin for a few weeks or even a few days and we think you'll find that it plumps and softens your look significantly, especially if you have more mature skin!
- Glycerin protects - By helping to maintain the skin’s protective layer of moisture, glycerin creates a barrier between the skin and elements that might harm it.
- Glycerin smooths the skin - Find that your skin is looking a little rough after a summer in the sun? Glycerin’s hydrating properties help create a smoother looking appearance to the skin.
- Glycerin exfoliates - Yes, even though it’s a moisturizer, glycerin does play a role in the exfoliation process, helping to improve skin’s radiance.
- Glycerin brightens - Between glycerin’s rejuvenating properties and its ability to moisturize, glycerin plays a key role in keeping skin looking bright and luminous!
- Glycerin improves your complexion - Glycerin is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores!
- Glycerin can be combined with other ingredients - One of the great things about glycerin is that it can be combined with so many other ingredients to add moisture. You can add it to your moisturizer or even hair conditioner!
- Glycerin is anti-aging - Nothing will help keep the skin looking young and vibrant like extra moisture. By bringing your skin’s natural moisture to the surface, glycerin is helping reduce the look of all those signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles!
What skin types should use it
One of the main reasons we love glycerin is that literally every skin type can use glycerin and benefit from it.
Here are a few examples of how glycerin benefits different skin types.
Glycerin for dry skin: those with dry skin in particular will really benefit from glycerin since one of its main jobs as a humectant is to moisturize. In fact, not only does glycerin moisturize the skin, it literally sucks it from the second layer of the skin (dermis) and brings it up to the top (epidermis), giving you that extra boost of hydration.
Glycerin for super-dry, cracked skin: If you have really, really dry skin, you probably spend a good part of the colder months trying to deal with cracked skin. Not only is cracked skin uncomfortable, it can even bleed if you don’t take care of it. Glycerin not only provides protective moisture, but it can prevent it from becoming that dry and unsightly in the first place!
Glycerin for oily skin: A lot of people with oily skin often skip moisturizer, assuming it will make their skin more susceptible to break-outs but the truth is, just because skin is oily, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need extra moisture, especially in the colder months. Glycerin is non-comedogenic so it’s less likely to clog pores. Plus, it renews the look of beautiful skin. If you have oily skin and need a moisturizer, look for one with glycerin in it.
Glycerin for combination skin: One of glycerin’s jobs is not only to hydrate the skin but uphold the skin’s protective moisture barrier. This is why it’s so effective on combination skin. Just because your skin isn’t particularly extreme, remember you still need to protect it!
Glycerin for aging skin: As we get older, our skin gets substantially dryer and more apt to develop fine lines and wrinkles (especially around the eye area which is why we included glycerin in our Eyes, Eyes, Baby eye cream!). That’s why it’s so important to make sure you increase skin hydration over time. Glycerin helps moisturize aging skin by not only providing your skin with moisture but by pulling it from its second layer. This will tighten and firm your look and provide a fresh and revitalized appearance by diminishing and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Glycerin for sensitive skin: Glycerin’s gentle, hydrating properties have a calming effect on sensitive skin, helping to beautify it by providing rejuvenating moisture. Remember, too, that the kind of glycerin we use is plant-based so it’s less likely to cause irritation.
We’ll talk about this more below, but the main thing to remember when using glycerin—whether or not you have sensitive skin—is to make sure you’re not using glycerin as a sole ingredient. Make sure it’s diluted with other ingredients as it is in moisturizer.
How to use glycerin for your skin
Glycerin is a little like rosewater or vitamin C in that it’s one of those ingredients that performs an astounding multitude of tasks—it just depends what you want it to do for your particular skin.
As we said above, however, the main thing to remember when using glycerin is that unless you’re using it in a product like moisturizer in which it is already mixed, make sure you dilute it with something else like rosewater or vitamin E. When we say glycerin pulls moisture from your skin, we really mean it, and if you use it on its own, you risk pulling too much moisture out and irritating your skin.
As long as you combine it with something else, you’ll be fine!
- Use glycerin as a facial moisturizer – If glycerin has a reputation for one thing in particular, it’s as a moisturizer. What most people don’t realize, however, is that glycerin does so much more than just hydrate the skin. As we said above, it actually pulls moisture up from the skin’s dermis up to the dermis, keeping it hydrated and plump. So when you look for a moisturizer, try to make sure you see glycerin in the ingredients list.
- Use glycerin as a body moisturizer – What’s good for the goose is good for the gander! Glycerin-infused body moisturizers are great for dry, cracked, wintertime skin!
- Use glycerin as a cleanser – Chances are you’ve seen glycerin soaps—they’re usually almost see-thru and feel creamy to the touch. Oil-free and non-comedogenic, glycerin makes a great cleanser for anyone with a tendency towards clogged pores. That’s why we’ve put some in our So Clean! Cleanser! (That said, its moisturizing properties mean that someone with dry skin doesn’t have to worry about getting any drier!)
- Use glycerin as a toner – Rosewater and glycerin are like the Venus and Serena, the Leslie and Ann, the Lucy and Ethel of skincare ingredient combinations! Together, they draw up and lock moisture into the skin like nobody’s business, so if you have a little rosewater toner, try adding just a tad of glycerin to it and see if you find it makes your skin just that much smoother!
- Use glycerin as a makeup remover – Yup! Glycerin takes off make-up! Just put a little glycerin and a few drops of water on a cotton pad and swipe gently over your skin. Remove any residual glycerin with a tissue. If you find it’s just a little too oily, you can add a few more drops of water.
- Use glycerin to make dull hair shine – It takes some experimenting to figure out just how much to use but glycerin makes a great hair gloss! Try putting a few little dabs of glycerin on your hands, rub them together, and gently run over and through your hair. It’ll give even the dullest hair a vibrant sheen!
- Use glycerin as a hair conditioner – Glycerin’s moisturizing properties not only work on skin—they work on hair as well! Use it as a conditioner on dry hair but make sure to dilute it with something else like your regular conditioner. Also, if you have dyed hair, ask your hairstylist for advice about whether it’s safe before doing anything.
- Use glycerin as a lip gloss/moisturizer – A little glycerin over the lips makes a great lip gloss that’s not only shiny but gives your lips a little shot of moisture! This is especially important since the lip area is especially prone to dryness, wrinkles, and fine lines.
- Use glycerin to make old make-up usable again – Have a dried-out lipstick or foundation that’s seen better days? Add a little tiny drop of glycerin and you can probably bring it back to life!
- Use glycerin on your hands and feet – Giving yourself a mani-pedi? Dilute a little glycerin with some rosewater or even your favorite moisturizer and rub it into your hands and feet.
As you can see, glycerin is one of the hardest working products in skin care and luckily, you don’t have to bang down any doors to get it! All you have to do is check the ingredients list, so the next time you’re purchasing cosmetics, keep an eye out for glycerin. We have a feeling your skin will be all the better for it!
Other frequently asked questions about glycerin in skin care
What does glycerin do for your skin? Is glycerin good for your skin?
Glycerin literally does everything from moisturize the skin to help uphold the skin’s protective barrier. Not only does glycerin hydrate the skin, but it actually draws moisture from the skin’s inner layers up to the epidermis, making the skin plumper and restoring a youthful look.
Yes, glycerin is excellent for the skin! By hydrating the skin, glycerin helps diminish and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Is glycerin vegan?
Yes! Although there is glycerin that is derived from animal fats, the glycerin we use is entirely plant based! And remember, all Fleur & Bee products are 100% vegan, natural, and cruelty free!
Is glycerin safe for skin?
Yes, glycerin is completely safe for skin! Just remember, though, that it’s best to dilute your glycerin with some other product like rosewater or vitamin E to prevent irritation.
Is glycerin non-comedogenic?
Yes, glycerin is entirely non-comedogenic which means it won’t clog pores, making it great for oily skin!
Can I use glycerin on my face?
Yes! Not only can you use glycerin on your face, but you should as it is very, very good for it! As we mentioned above, glycerin not only moisturizes your skin, it helps draw moisture from its deeper layers, plumping up the epidermis to give skin that youthful look!
Can I use glycerin on my lips?
Absolutely! Not only can you use glycerin on your lips as a moisturizer, you can use it as a gloss! Chapped lips? Try a little glycerin! Glycerin really smooths the skin and helps diminish those fine lines and wrinkles to which lips are especially susceptible.
And, if you have a lipstick that’s a little janky, add a little glycerin and see if it doesn’t solve the problem!