If you’re a food label reading pro, then you’re probably used to scanning the backs of tins and packets, looking for the ingredients you want to consume, and more importantly, those that you don’t.
The same goes for our skincare. Many of us devour the information listed on tubes, bottles and tubs, looking for the right, wrong, or very wrong (parabens, phthalates and mineral oil, we’re looking condescendingly at you) skincare ingredients.
If you’re a regular skin care label reader, then one skin care ingredient you’ve probably noticed is glycerin. But what does glycerin do for skin?
According to a Cosmetic Ingredient Review conducted in 2014, glycerin is the third most common ingredient in skincare products. Perhaps unsurprisingly, water is first and fragrance is second. You may also see glycerin listed in ingredients lists as glycerine or glycerol.
Glycerin uses for skin are numerous, but number one - it’s an effective hydrating ingredient, so it’s little wonder that it’s added to many different skin care products. We use glycerin here at Sönd in three of our products - our Rebalance and Reset Cream Cleanser, our Calming Hydration Day Cream and our Deep Hydration Serum.
We only use ingredients that are proven to be beneficial to all skin types, especially skin types that are stressed out or refuse to conform, resulting in acne breakouts and inflammation.
So what does glycerin do for skin? Deeply hydrates and nourishes! At Sönd, we use glycerin because it’s so beneficial. Here’s everything you need to know about glycerin as a skin care ingredient. We’ll cover what it is, how it works and how it benefits the skin.
What is Glycerin in Skincare?
Glycerin is an odourless, colourless liquid that is found in animal fats and plant derived oils. It can be derived from animals or plants and it can also be manufactured synthetically (that is, it can be man made as well as naturally derived).
Most brands these days opt for glycerin in skincare that’s plant derived rather than animal derived. Certainly in our case, all of our glycerin is plant derived. But it’s worth checking the labels of other skin care and beauty brands as this isn’t always the case.
Glycerin is also quite syrupy in texture, and has a fairly sweet taste.
For this reason, it’s used as both a sweetening agent and a thickening agent in some types of foods, in particular, baked goods.
But here we’re interested in the uses of glycerin in skincare products.
What Are the Benefits of Glycerin for the Skin?
Is glycerin good for your skin? You bet it is! Glycerin has the ability to help prevent dryness in the skin, as well as help prevent scaling and irritation from the environment and whatever the weather throws at our skin.
The benefits of glycerin are all down to its ability to hydrate the skin. This is due to its humectant properties. A humectant is a hydrating agent that helps to keep the skin from dehydrating by drawing water from the nearby atmosphere and holding it in the skin.
You may also see glycerin described as a hygroscopic ingredient - hygroscopic has the same meaning as humectant - that it draws water from the nearest source.
This means that humectants, including glycerin, attract water molecules from the air and donate them to the skin cells to keep them hydrated. This is different to other moisturising agents such as squalane, which is an emollient. An emollient works by trapping water molecules between the skin cells to keep the skin hydrated and smooth.
In fact, we use both glycerin and squalane in our products. This is because humectants such as glycerin can also choose to draw water from deeper within the skin if the air is particularly dry. This will still hydrate the upper layers, but can leave the lower layers of skin dry and dehydrated.
The benefit of Glycerin in low concentrations alongside other types of moisturising ingredients is that it helps to combat dryness in the lower layers of skin.
Studies back up the ability of Glycerin to moisturise the skin, too. One, back in 2008, found that Glycerin can hydrate the stratum corneum, which is the scientific name for the outer layers of skin.
It can also improve the natural barrier function of the skin helping to provide a barrier against irritants. What’s more, this study found that Glycerin can also help to speed up wound healing.
Another study, this time in 2016, concluded that “Glycerin is the most effective humectant”. This was when it was tested against other moisturising humectants including alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and hyaluronic acid.
Do Glycerin Skincare Products Have Any Side Effects?
Glycerin has consistently tested negative for any kind of skin irritation at the concentrations it's used at in Glycerin skincare products.
Since it can draw moisture from the deeper layers of skin, it’s not recommended that you ever use Glycerin in neat concentrations directly on the skin. This will cause dehydration within the lower layers of the skin.
Those with particularly sensitive skin may experience some redress, itching or irritation after using Glycerin skincare products. If this is you, use these products sparingly to get your skin used to them. If your irritation continues after a few weeks, or your skin feels very hot or feels like it’s burning, stop using the product straight away.
Glycerin works amazingly for most skin types. It moisturises, hydrates and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. It also protects the skin from damage and makes it appear more plump and youthful.
Sometimes, nature really does have all the answers, and it most definitely does in the form of skin loving glycerin!
How to Use Glycerin for Skin Care
Glycerin for skin care reasons should only ever be used diluted, so don’t be tempted to use neat Glycerin on your skin. This could result in irritated, severely dehydrated skin - the exact opposite of what you wanted to achieve!
Knowing what dilution is best, is tricky. So step away from the pure Glycerin you might have in your baking cupboard, and reach for Sönd skincare products instead!
Our cream cleanser can be used twice a day to remove makeup, dirt, grime, oil and bacteria and suits all skin types. It’s ideally followed by our deeply hydrating skin serum to provide hydration and nourishment to even the most parched of skin types. Follow up with our skin calming day cream and your skin will be kept hydrated and soothed all day.
All three products contain Glycerin for skin care and have been developed to meet the needs of any skin that might be acne prone, sensitive, dry or oily. It’s even perfect for those with ‘normal’ skin. So give your skin a treat and order your Sönd skincare today.
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.