The Allure Of Glycerin: A Natural Humectant For Dry Skin

Hello, dear skin enthusiast! Are you someone who’s in pursuit of getting as soft as a baby’s skin? Or maybe you’re battling with the woes of dry skin and rethinking your skincare choices? If yes, then considering glycerin for your skin could be a great start, and we’re here to help you with that!

You may have stumbled upon the buzz around glycerin being the “it moisturizer.” While this natural ingredient has indeed gained popularity on social media recently, it’s important to note that glycerin has been a cornerstone of the cosmetics and skincare industry for decades. Yes, and you won’t believe how almost all your everyday products have glycerin in them. Starting from soap bars, toothpaste, skin or hair products, and food and beverages. However, if you’re among those who weren’t aware of glycerin’s magical abilities, worry not. This blog is here to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of everything about glycerin—its uses, benefits, and most importantly, how you can use it to get rid of dry skin!

So put your favorite face masks on and get ready for an insightful read! 

But let’s start with the basics…

What Is Glycerin?

Glycerin (or glycerine), also known as glycerol is a product obtained when the hydrolysis of triglycerides takes place. Moreover, it is also produced as a byproduct during the manufacture of soap, biodiesel, etc.1 Glycerin possesses a unique property that enables it to absorb water from the air. This property of absorption also makes glycerin an ideal addition to moisturizers, crediting its prevalent use in soaps and lotions.1 

Additionally, glycerin has a naturally sweet taste and is often used as a food preservative and sugarless sweetener.1 

Let’s learn a bit more about glycerin’s properties!

Properties Of Glycerin

Apart from being naturally sweet and having a thick consistency, glycerin is odorless and colorless. It can be mixed with either water or alcohol, but it cannot be dissolved with chloroform, ether, etc.2

Furthermore, if you take a closer look at the properties of glycerin, you’ll realize that these same things make it humectant! And this is why glycerin is regarded as beneficial for the skin!

Humectant refers to a substance (with a liquid-like state) that helps in moisture retention.3 

Origin And History Of Glycerin

  • Glycerin was first isolated by a German-Swedish chemist named Carl Wilhelm Scheele in the year 1783.4
  • Carel Scheele initially described glycerin as the “sweet principle of fat.”4
  • Term glycerin was much later introduced by French chemist Michel-Eugéne Chevreul.4
  • Also, up to the year 1948, glycerin was produced as a by-product of soap manufacture from animal and vegetable fats, and oils.4 

Now that we have discovered the origins of glycerin let’s take a look at its application over the years. 

Applications Of Glycerin

Up till now, we’ve learned about how glycerin was first obtained and a little about its nomenclature. But did you know that it has multiple applications as well? In this section, we’ll discuss some of its other uses to get a better idea of glycerin’s abilities besides being good for your skin!

  1. Glycerin In The Food Industry

It may come as a surprise to many, but glycerin has been a crucial part of the food manufacturing and preservation industry. The glycerin’s humectant nature makes it perfect to be added as a food additive- which helps in the retention of moisture, preventing sugar crystallization, and adding smooth texture and softness to packed food and beverages.5 Furthermore, glycerin is also a popular choice when it comes to adding sweetness to food items without boosting blood sugar levels. However, yes, glycerin sure does add up to your carb intake! 5 

Let’s take a look at all the ways glycerin is being incorporated into food manufacturing and processing- 

a. Glycerin As Sweetener

  • As we discussed earlier, sweet taste is one of the most distinguishing qualities of glycerin. Also, it’s 60% as sweet as refined sugar.6 It is actively used in foods and beverages as a healthy alternative to sugar, as it has fewer calories in comparison to refined sugars.

  • Lastly, you’re more likely to find glycerin added in the icing and fondants to achieve a viscous yet dense enough texture for cake decorations.6 

b. Glycerin As Emulsifier

  • An emulsifier is something that helps in binding oil and water in a mixture. 

  • Glycerin works as an emulsifier and promotes the stability of any solution, mix, etc., which elongates the shelf life of food and beverages.6 

c. Glycerin As Humectant

  • The ability of glycerin to retain moisture is something that also enhances its properties as an emulsifier.

  • Glycerin, being a humectant, delays the process of water loss from food and beverage items, which is done by attracting water from the air.6

2. Glycerin In Pharma Industry 

Glycerin is the most used ingredient in the pharma industry after water. As it has an inherent sweet flavor, glycerin acts as a suitable additive to the drugs, making them less horrible to taste. So yes, glycerin not only helps your food stay fresh for longer but also prevents your taste buds from chemicals!6

The majority of cough syrups use glycerin as an ingredient to make them taste less medicinal. But it also adds a certain viscosity to the solution. Furthermore, the use of glycerin in the coating of drug capsules is also widely practiced, as it (glycerin) is both non-toxic and safe to consume.6 

Apart from drug preservation and taste enhancer, glycerin has also other functions in pharma. Let’s briefly explore them in the following- 

a. Treat Glaucoma

  • Glaucoma is a condition that results in loss of vision when the optical nerves experience damage due to increased pressure in the eye.7 

  • The oral consumption of glycerin is known to treat glaucoma, especially when an individual has to undergo eye surgery.8 

b. Rectal Suppository or Laxative

  • Glycerin is often used in the form of a rectal suppository to treat constipation.

  • Its humectant property helps in drawing the water into intensities from surrounding body tissues, eventually aiding in healthier bowel motions.9 

Coming to the most awaited bit of this blog. In the next section, we’ll learn how glycerin has changed the skincare and cosmetic industry! 

3. Glycerin In The Skincare And Cosmetic Industry

So, we’re sure that by now, you may have received a faint idea as to why glycerin is good for the skin. (Hint: because of its ability to absorb moisture!) Moreover, glycerin is also great when mixed with water, which makes it ideal for cosmetic formulations. 

Additionally, the humectant nature of glycerin allows for intact moisture, which eventually promotes its ability to soften the skin.6  Besides, glycerin is also inherently non-toxic, which makes it safe to use on the skin and even on mucus membranes.6

a. Glycerin In Skincare

  • As read earlier, glycerin is a humectant, and easy to dissolve, which means that it helps in hydrating skin. 

  • Due to its hygroscopic (property of a substance that can absorb and retain moisture10) nature,  glycerin is good for preventing dry skin.6  

b. Glycerin In Cosmetics

  • Glycerin is widely used as a primary ingredient in cosmetics. 

  • It acts as a protective component that does not clog pores and helps in moisture retention.11 

We hope that reading all the extensive uses of glycerin and seeing how safe it can be has helped you understand how glycerin acts as a humectant for dry skin. However, before you include glycerin in your skincare routine, we recommend talking to your healthcare provider first to ensure that you’re not susceptible to any allergies that may develop from its use. 

Nonetheless, we’re well aware that you may have a few questions yourself about the use of glycerin on your skin or as a moisturizing agent. Don’t worry, folks; we’ve accumulated and answered some of the frequently asked questions just for you!

Glycerin And Skin Care FAQs

Question 1. How To Use Glycerin For Dry Skin Or Face?

It’s safe to use glycerin on the skin when it’s found in creams, moisturizers, or body lotions. However, when it comes to using glycerin alone, it becomes imperative for you to be extra cautious. Using only high-concentration glycerin could irritate your skin, so you need to dilute it before using it. 

For diluting glycerin, you can either use rose water or purified water. Also, it’s recommended that you do a little patch test before applying the diluted glycerin on your face or any other delicate area. 

Mentioned below are the instructions on how to use glycerin for dry skin

Step 1. Cleanse your face with a delicate cleanser.

Step 2. Take a cotton pad and put a few drops of diluted glycerin on it.

Step 3. Dab the cotton pad wherever you often experience dry skin.

Step 4. Lave glycerin for a few minutes and rinse off gently.

Question 2. Is Glycerin Good For Skin?

Yes, glycerin is good for skin, especially dry skin. As mentioned above, glycerin acts as a moisture-locking and water-absorbing agent, which also makes it a popular component in lotions, moisturizers, etc; it’d be fair to state that it’s good for the skin! 

Also, it’s been studied in a study that glycerin, when used with hyaluronic acid, and Centella Asiatica extract, is used to promote the skin’s barrier for up to 24 hours after the application.14 So if you want to up your skincare game and want to get rid of dry skin, then trying these 3 ingredients together can be a game changer for you!

Question 3. What Does Glycerin Do For Skin

When someone has dry skin, it is usually due to the loss of moisture. Now, when glycerin or glycerin-based moisturizers/ lotion is applied to the skin, an oil-like layer is created. The layer has glycerin’s humectant properties along with other nourishing ingredients that help bring moisture to the topmost layer of the skin.6 

This process also promotes the shedding of dead skin cells, leaving a smoother feel to the skin. The oily layer formed by glycerin also acts as a barrier, preventing toxins from penetrating the skin.6

Question 4. Why Is Glycerin Good For Skin?

Glycerin is great for the skin, as it has various functions, such as:

  • Retaining moisture
  • Improving skin barrier
  • Protection against skin irritants
  • Helping against dry skin and psoriasis14 

Question 5. What Skin Type Is Glycerin Best For? 

Glycerin is great for every skin type, not just dry skin; even those with oily skin can reap its benefits as it doesn’t lead to pore congestion. For individuals with dry skin or severe dry, cracked skin, glycerine proves beneficial (as we have already mentioned).

Furthermore, glycerol’s non-comedogenic (inability to clog skin pores) nature makes it an excellent moisturizer for oily skin types. In the case of combination skin, glycerol helps maintain the skin’s protective barrier. Thanks to its soothing properties, glycerine is an ideal choice for individuals with sensitive skin.12

Final Take!

As we end our discussion on glycerin’s magical abilities, we hope that you have gained a fair understanding of its properties- not only in skincare but in other aspects as well. Moreover, while the choice of including glycerin in your skincare is yours, the evidence to support its effectiveness is well presented by several studies. 

In the end, whether you wish to embrace the allure of glycerin or choose an alternative path in your quest to combat dry skin, we wish you every success in unlocking the full potential of your skin’s health and rejuvenation!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance and recommendations tailored to your specific skin condition or health concerns. The content in this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Any reliance you place on the information from this blog is at your own risk. We do not endorse or guarantee the efficacy of any specific skincare products or treatments mentioned in this blog. Individual results may vary. If you have a medical emergency or a severe skin condition, seek immediate medical attention.



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