Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Rupali Goswami (Beauty Expert) on 17th Nov 2020

Glycerin for face and skin: Uses & Benefits 

Glycerin for skin

Glycerin is one of the most common and oldest ingredients that has long been used by our grandmothers and mothers in their beauty regimes. It is considered one of the most valuable ingredients and can be found in many skincare products. Glycerin has some fantastic moisturizing properties and provides a wide range of benefits for the skin.

From skincare to oral care to household products, glycerin is the one ingredient that you can easily spot in everything around your house. All animals and vegetables also contain natural glycerin. It is known to be a highly effective humectant that helps keep your skin moisturized for hours and hours. The best part? It is non-allergenic, non-comedogenic, naturally derived from plant sources, and way more affordable than other fancier and expensive skincare products.

Due to such universal properties, glycerin can be found in many products formulated for different skin types, whether dry, oily, or sensitive, aged people, baby products, etc. Further, in this article, we will explain what glycerin is. What are its uses and benefits? And other things that might be useful for you. 

What is Glycerin? 

Also goes by the name glycerol, glycerin is a natural compound obtained from animal fats and vegetable oils. It is a transparent, odorless, and colorless liquid that has a sweet taste. Glycerin falls in the category of humectants, a type of moisturizing agent that draws out water to the skin's outer layer from the skin’s deeper layers and air.

Glycerin can also be seen in a synthetic form and is produced through chemical processes that involve chlorine, petroleum, and propylene.

In most skincare products, glycerin pairs well with occlusive ingredients, which are also a type of moisturizing agent that pulls and seals the moisture into the skin. It is also known for protecting your skin from harmful environmental aggressors, improving skin's texture, and helping keep your skin hydrated, supple & soft. Some everyday cosmetic products that consist of glycerin are creams, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, face products, lip balms, and many others.  

As stated in one study, glycerin is one of the most effective humectants as compared to others like: 

  • Acids like lactic 
  • Urea 
  • Sorbitol 

Glycerin is also known to treat several skin disorders, from dehydrated skin to healing a wound. It can be a lot more beneficial for your overall health.  

Uses of glycerin in skincare 

Glycerin is a popular ingredient incorporated in many products like soaps, lotions, and other skincare products due to the extraordinary moisturizing properties it holds. If you use a pure or natural glycerin soap, it won't dry you out or make your skin itchy and irritated as most soaps do because they don’t contain particles like fragrance and other chemicals.

Glycerin helps seals in the moisture while gently cleaning and leaving your skin soft and supple. Glycerin can be found in other skincare products like: 

1. Cleansers:

Glycerin is much safer than those chemical-based cleansers that strip off the natural oils from your face. Cleansers containing glycerin won't dry your skin out or add any extra oil to the skin's surface or clog pores. That in itself makes it an excellent cleanser for people dealing with acne-prone skin. Anyone with any skin type can use cleansers containing glycerin to pull out the dirt & grease without drying out the skin. 

2. Toners: 

Toners containing glycerin are a great way to provide instant freshness to your skin and avoid any greasy or sticky feeling. Toners are generally used to restore the skin's pH levels of the skin, and with that, glycerin adds the benefit of hydration with the layer of light formula and gives your skin a refreshing effect. 

3. Face Masks: 

If you want a dose of quick hydration added to your skin, you can use a face mask containing glycerin to moisturize and brighten up your skin. It also provides some speedy age-defying results. There are so many face masks that you can make at home using readily available ingredients. Glycerin works great with rose water, honey, aloe vera, and other things. 

4. Soaps: 

The process of saponification contains glycerin as a natural-by-product. When alkaline and oils react together, it forms a soap and glycerol. However, only vegetable derived and food-grade glycerin is used in the soap making process. As glycerin is a gentle ingredient that won't dry out the skin, it is mostly found in all the soaps, body washes, and baby care products. 

5. Moisturizers: 

The most impressive feature that glycerin holds is its capability of moisturizing. As a humectant agent, glycerin can be found in numerous creams, lotions, and moisturizers. Glycerin attracts moisture to the skin's surface layer and helps smooth out the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  

6. Sunscreen: 

Sunscreen protects the skin against harmful UV rays by blocking these rays, significantly reducing the chance of sunburns and sun damage. Some sunscreen contains glycerin as a natural moisturizer, which makes the sunscreens more spreadable. It will act as a barrier against the sun's harmful rays and other environmental aggressors while packing your skin with hydration. 

7. Lip balm: 

By now, we know that glycerin is much gentler than any other chemical-based moisturizer. Our lips need special care as the skin on the lips is way thinner than on any other parts of the body. Glycerin mixed with shea butter, cocoa butter, or coconut oil makes a great lip balm

Benefits of glycerin for skin 

As we said before, glycerin has many benefits for your skin and the body's health. It works well with every skin type, whether you have dry, sensitive, combination, oily, or acne-prone skin. If you are more aware of animal harm and environmental damage, you can opt for natural or vegetable glycerin that has no harmful impact on the environment or animals. 

The following are some benefits that you can easily experience by incorporating natural glycerin in your beauty regime. 

1. Younger looking skin: 

Glycerin can help decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by trapping and transferring the moisture from the deeper levels of the skin to the skin's surface, giving it a more healthy and youthful glow.

It also slows down the aging process by improving skin functioning. A study showed that glycerin might also be helpful for skin cells to mature properly.

Glycerin helps form a protective skin barrier by guiding young skin cells to reach the surface layer from the deepest layers of the skin, helping the skin function better overall. 

2. Bye! Bye! Acne: 

Some ingredients made to treat acne and are commonly found in many cleansers and moisturizers can turn out to be way harsh for your skin that can worsen your acne-causing irritation and inflammation.

Glycerin is a non-comedogenic and oil-free ingredient that won't clog your pores, allowing your skin to breathe. Clogged pores are one of the primary reasons for breakouts, so using glycerin for acne-prone or oily skin might be the ideal ingredient. 

3. Safety is a must: 

Whenever you introduce any new ingredient in your skincare or haircare or elsewhere, the most important thing to consider is how safe that ingredient is.

Your skin plays an important role in protecting your entire body from all the dirt, pollutants, environmental aggressors, and other harmful things present in your surroundings. The skin helps your body by keeping necessary fluids inside, fighting back with the harmful bacterias and viruses out, and balancing out the body temperature.

Some harmful compounds like fragrance and chemicals can result in dry skin, causing irritation or clog pores. Glycerin won't clog your pores and will certainly keep your skin hydrated. The safety level of glycerin can be illustrated as it is used in more than 120 baby products and more than 15000 cosmetic products.  

4. It's gentle: 

To keep your skin in a healthy and comfortable state, it is important to use gentle cleansers and moisturizers, especially if you have acne-prone skin. People dealing with acne-prone skin are often advised to incorporate exfoliators to remove all the dead skin cells. These exfoliators will surely do the work of removing dead skin cells but can cause irritation, redness, and breakouts as they are harsh.

Glycerin is a great way to gently exfoliate, cleanse, and moisturize your skin without causing any irritation. Gentle cleansers that contain glycerin can be of great help for people dealing with acne-prone skin and also for dry skin types.  

5. Great healing properties: 

Glycerin is an amazing ingredient for providing hydration to the dry, damaged, and cracked skin. Glycerin may also help treat serious skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis and heal wounds from other skin conditions. It promotes the process of wound healing and protects skin against irritants.  

6. Works great as a moisturizer: 

You can think of glycerin as a sponge that attracts more and more moisture to itself. It also stops water from evaporating from the skin, helping keep the skin hydrated and moisturized for a very long time.

A study mentioned in the Asian Journal of Beauty and Cosmetology conducted a comparison between the moisturizers that contain glycerin to the moisturizers that do not contain glycerin. It was discovered that moisturizers containing both silicone oils and glycerin contain the highest hydrating properties that go on for a longer period than the moisturizers that do not contain glycerin.

7. Skin protection: 

Humidity level drops, especially in winters, when the air is cold, causing all the moisture in your skin to evaporate quicker, and that's why you experience more dry, cracked, and flaky skin in winters.
Moisturizers containing glycerin will help seal in the moisture for a much longer time and help protect your face, hands, feet, and the entire body.  

Freewill Tip:

Apply your lotions, creams, and moisturizers right after coming out of the shower as your skin will be damp, and it would be easier for a moisturizer to soak into the skin and lock the moisture in place. 

Final Word:  

Many research and studies prove the safety and benefits of glycerin that works in favor of almost everyone and everything.

Your face skin tends to be more sensitive and in rare cases, glycerin can dry you out, so always remember to dilute it with water or some other carrier agent. If you notice any signs of irritation, itchiness, or redness, then stop using that particular product immediately and consult a professional.