Updated: Nov 4, 2020
This is an ingredient that didn't sound like anything special — but stood the test of time for its hydrating capabilities.
Scan the ingredients of your most treasured moisturiser your favourite body butter and there's a good chance you'll find glycerin high up on the list — and for good reason. Experts talk about why the unsuspecting clear, scentless liquid continues to be a go-to ingredient in the skin-care world.
What is glycerin?
According to Hadley King, MD, a NYC-based dermatologist, glycerin is a powerful humectant that attracts moisture to the skin. "It attracts and binds water, which makes it a key component to an effective moisturiser," she says. Think of a humectant like glycerine as a kind of sponge that infuses moisture into the skin, keeping it plump and hydrated.
Glycerin can be obtained from plant, animal, and chemical sources, so it's important to pay attention to origin if you prefer to avoid animal byproducts. "Animal fats, petroleum, and the oils from soybean, coconut, or palm plants are the most commonly used source. Vegetable glycerin, a variant derived from plant oils, is the kind most commonly used in cosmetics.
What are the benefits of using glycerin?
You'll find glycerin in all manner of skin-care products, from cleansers and moisturiser to sunscreen and even hand sanitiser.
The humectant's moisture-absorbing properties make it a useful addition in just about any formula to draw hydration to the skin. When paired with emollients (like squalene and ceramides), and occlusives (like petrolatum and lanolin), glycerin helps attract moisture while the other ingredients work together to help lock it in.
SB tip of the day:
To combat dry and dehydrated skin and to stay hydrated, mix pure glycerine with your normal moisturiser and or hand sanitiser. Remember dry skin leads to tired and ageing skin typically seen by fine lines and wrinkles.