Benefits of Glycerin for Skin: Does it Actually Work?
Reading the ingredients label on skincare products can be overwhelming for anyone, especially if you’re new to skincare. But it doesn’t have to be so mystifying, and you don’t have to possess a degree in dermatology to learn which ingredients can deliver real results for your skin and which are better left on the shelf.
“Glycerin is one of my favorite skincare ingredients for effective hydration.”
Shani Darden, Esthetician
In order to help you decode the complicated language of skincare, I’m going to break down certain skincare ingredients for you so you know exactly what you’re putting on your face and how it can help. Let’s talk about the benefits of glycerin for the skin and discuss whether or not it actually works.
What Is Glycerin?
Glycerin is also known as glycerol, and it’s used in a wide range of products — it’s likely that there’s already something in your house made with glycerin. There’s glycerin soap, face washes, lotions, and creams — vegetable glycerin is even sometimes used as a preservative in a variety of products.
Some people go a DIY route and use pure glycerin on their skin for its benefits. Although glycerin has many benefits, it’s most popular in skincare products due to its ability to moisturize your skin.
Glycerin acts as a humectant when applied topically, which means it’s a superior moisturizing agent that helps to attract water to your skin and keep it there, reducing water loss throughout the day. It’s even been shown in some studies to be one of the most effective humectants out there.
How Does Glycerin Benefit Your Skin?
Glycerin’s humectant properties make it a hydrating addition to just about any moisturizer.
To get the most out of glycerin, it’s generally best practice to use a product that combines glycerin’s humectant properties with the nourishing, hydrating effects of an emollient, which can help to soften skin. You may also want to layer on an oil-free occlusive ingredient like cocoa butter, shea butter, or squalene to help lock in that moisture and support the skin barrier.
Because glycerin can promote a healthy skin barrier, this means that it can have a hand in preventing visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, help to keep harmful bacteria and impurities from taking up residence in your pores, and even help soothe skin irritation.
An optimized skin barrier, which is the outer layer of your skin, is the holy grail for just about any issue your skin may be having, especially problems related to dry skin.
Glycerin is also good for all skin types, even if you have sensitive skin, because it isn’t associated with any major side effects and is generally gentle on your skin. But as always, if you’re uneasy about introducing a new product to your lineup or you just prefer to err on the side of caution, speaking to a board-certified dermatologist first is never a bad idea.
How Can You Use Glycerin in Your Routine?
Working glycerin into your skincare routine is actually incredibly easy because the odds are that you already use a product that makes use of glycerin. Unlike other key ingredients, glycerin isn’t drying or harsh on your skin, so you don’t have to worry about going overboard.
I’m not suggesting you start taking glycerin baths, but I am saying that if you have more than one product in your lineup that is formulated with glycerin, it’s not going to throw anything off. Let’s talk about three of my favorite ways to use glycerin to help get the most out of your skin.
1. To Help You Hydrate
Glycerin is a great addition to any moisturizer and is especially useful when added to products that prioritize anti-aging. My Intensive Eye Renewal Cream is a luxurious, all-in-one formula that will melt into your skin, leaving behind silky-smooth, perfectly nourished skin. It’s formulated with 9 age-defying active ingredients to help turn back the clock on your complexion.
Potent peptides help plump and firm, while silk tree extracts lift and brighten the delicate skin beneath your eyes. Squalane helps to hydrate your skin, while niacinamide helps smooth out the texture of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles. Glycerin adds its humectant properties to help encourage smoother, more youthful-looking skin.
2. To Gently Cleanse
Choosing the right facial cleanser is so important. If you have oily skin, you may be tempted to grab something harsh that leaves your skin feeling tight and stripped to help combat oil. But robbing your skin of its natural moisture will only make things worse. Likewise, if your skin tends to be dry, you’ll want a cleanser that works gently so as not to dehydrate your skin.
That’s where my Cleansing Serum really shines. It foams into a luxurious lather that easily melts away makeup and pore-clogging impurities.
But rather than leaving your skin raw and stripped, this cleansing serum is packed with humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to hydrate your skin, restorative oat bran to help balance your skin’s moisture levels, and olive extract to soothe any irritation, leaving you with ultra-clean, silky soft skin.
3. To Treat Skincare Concerns
Glycerin is also a great ingredient to look for when it comes to specific treatments or serums. While hero ingredients like the titular lactic acid in my Lactic Acid Serum may get more attention, glycerin is an equally important component of this brightening, refining serum because it helps to keep your skin hydrated.
Lactic acid works as a chemical exfoliant, which means that it helps to weaken the bonds between your skin cells, allowing old, dead cells to be easily sloughed away. This helps cut down on clogged pores and also allows newer, brighter cell growth to shine through. This can lead to brighter skin and can even help with pesky concerns like dark spots and visible signs of aging.
My Lactic Acid Serum is so effective and well-balanced that 100 percent of users during a four-week clinical study said their skin looked brighter and glowier overnight. 100 percent also experienced less noticeable pores and a more even skin tone. So if you don’t like gambling with your skincare products, this serum enriched with hydrating glycerin is a great choice.
Because of glycerin’s soothing and hydrating properties, it’s also a great ingredient to layer on top of other powerful ingredients, like retinol.
Choosing the right products for your skincare routine can be challenging, especially when you have specific concerns like dryness or overall skin hydration. There are so many products out there to choose from, each with about a million different ingredients to make things even more overwhelming.
Next time you’re unsure, look for something that uses glycerin. Glycerin is a great ingredient to seek out when reading product formulations because it offers a wide range of benefits that can soothe irritation from skin conditions and promote healthy-looking skin without any notable side effects.
Moisturizers: The Slippery Road | National Library of Medicine
Cosmetics - Exploring Humectants | Center for Research on Ingredient Safety
Enhancing Skin Hydration and Barrier Function via Skin Penetration of Monoglycerides and Sustained Glycerin Release | American Academy of Dermatology