Did you know glycerin used to be the main ingredient in explosives? And you’re putting it on your skin?
Of course! Glycerin is a super hydrating, non-toxic, non-comedogenic moisturizing wonder ingredient YOU should start incorporating in your routine.
Curious? Let’s jump right in!
What is Glycerin?
Glycerin isn’t just for skincare! Scientists discovered that people used to use glycerin all the way back in the 1880s to make dynamite. Whoa.
Since then, scientists have studied glycerin and found it plays an important role in nature. If you ever drank wine or ate bread, you’ll find glycerin there.
It’s a popular ingredient for sensitive skin, and manufacturers used it to cure diaper rash, skin burns, or irritation from sun sensitivity. Glycerin helps irritated skin with its moisturizing properties.
So it makes sense for skincare manufacturers to use glycerin in their products.
Korean skincare incorporates plenty of glycerin for moisture (and if you remember, hydration is a holy commandment in Korean beauty!).
But What is Glycerin, Really?
It’s a sugar alcohol derived from vegetable lipids or animal fats, though it’s usually derived from plant sources these days.
It’s a natural compound with a slightly sweet taste that’s colorless, odorless and water-soluble. So it works well as a moisturizing agent with cosmetics formulas.
(So well, in fact, that it is even in dermatologist-grade products for eczema.)
It’s a humectant, so it can draw moisture from your environment to your skin. If you’ve used other humectants before, you’ll be familiar with its moisturizing benefits.
Top 3 Benefits of Glycerin for Your Face and Skin
1. Glycerin for Dry Skin
We mentioned earlier that glycerin is a humectant. In fact, its water-absorbing properties are so great it even beats other skincare ingredients like urea for this benefit alone!
So if you’re travelling to a snowy wonderland, using glycerin as a moisturizer can help your skin cells absorb moisture from dry air.
It also reduces the evaporation of moisture from the skin. Perfect for the winter months!
If you’re suffering from rough skin or chapped lips, dilute and use glycerin with your skin moisturizers and apply to your mouth area. Alternatively, use glycerin as a toner by mixing it with a half-cup rose water.
But you can use glycerin in your beach getaways, too!
Take advantage of our humid tropical air by patting on a glycerin-based serum moisturizer.
2. Glycerin for Evening Out Skin Tone
Glycerin is hydrating. But can you use glycerin to even out your skin?
The answer is yes, yes, and yes!
Hydration is the key to evening out your skin tone after hyperpigmentation, so a star ingredient that attracts moisture, like glycerin, can blur out your blemishes in no time.
Glycerin encourages healthy skin turnover.
You can even make your own toning solution with it. Just dilute some glycerin with rose water and lemon juice into a spray bottle, and spritz some to your skin at night.
First, prepare the following ingredients:
- 5 drops of glycerin
- 3 and a half tablespoons of rose water
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice (roughly 1 lemon’s worth)
Second, mix the ingredients in a bowl dedicated to skincare mixes.
Finally, funnel the mix into a spray bottle and use glycerin everytime you need it. Enjoy!
3. Anti-Aging and Scar Reduction
When used as a toner, glycerin tightens and moisturizes skin. Glycerin reduces fine lines from dry skin and fills your wrinkles in.
Glycerin repairs your skin barrier by preserving and thickening your strateum corneum (your skin’s moisture barrier).
Your strateum corneum decreases (thins) as you age, so adding a little glycerin can help stall your skin from aging by strengthening your skin’s protective barrier.
For those with physical scarring, glycerin is a champion in this area!
- Acne scars: Glycerin exfoliates and lightens the appearance of scar and helps repair the skin elasticity.
- Hypertrophic or keloids: It works by sheeting. Topical glycerin toners or serums have some but not significant results.
The Glycerin Difference
Glycerin is a lot like other ingredients in the market today. So what sets glycerin apart? Here are a few differences between glycerin and other familiar ingredients.
Glycerin vs. Hyaluronic Acid
Both these ingredients are humectants that draw moisture to your face. Some even call glycerin “HA’s budget sister.“
Glycerin hydrates by adding moisture, and suppleness, has a smaller molecular size so it penetrates deeper into the skin.
However if you want to lock in moisture (for dry skin), HA has a larger molecular weight so it sits on top of skin, serving like a cushion to seal in moisture that is already present in the skin.
Mixing these two ingredients into your routine is a good idea, though. The formulation can change the texture of your skincare: glycerin can be a bit sticky, while HA is runnier.
If you are planning to use Hyaluronic acids, we suggest that you pair it with an amino acid-based skincare formula.
Glycerin vs. Vegetable Oils
We no longer use glycerin from animal sources – phew! – but if you’re reading about glycerin for the first time, you might think that glycerin is the same thing as vegetable oil.
Well… They’re not. Glycerin is actually the product of saponifying vegetable oils. As a result, vegetable glycerin has a much better texture on your skin, and works well as a moisturizer.
Incorporating Glycerin Into Your Routine
How to Keep Your Skin Hydrated All Day:
A little goes a long way! By mixing glycerin with your daily skincare products or make-up, you too can achieve moist, plump, youthful skin.
When you mix it with other moisturizing ingredients such as urea and hyaluronic acid, you can supercharge the impressive effects of glycerin.
1. Cleansing with Glycerin
A homemade facial cleanser uses simple ingredients you can buy from the drugstore or online. Plus, it’s affordable!
Follow these steps for an easy morning cleanser:
- Mix water with one and a half tablespoons of glycerin and cornstarch in a bowl.
- Bring the mixture to a boil till it looks clear.
- Wait for the mixture to cool, then use glycerin mixture on moist skin.
- Wash out the cleanser with warm water.
If you don’t have time to boil, you can always just mix three teaspoons of milk with a teaspoon of glycerin. It works just as well as the cornstarch mix.
2. DIY Glycerin Toner
For daily use, just apply glycerin on a cotton ball (preferably cotton pad) – just a few drops! – and wipe it on dry skin.
It might feel sticky when used that way, so feel free to use glycerin diluted with one and a half cups of rose water for moist skin.
You can always use another cotton ball if you need another swipe.
3. Sample Glycerin Daytime Routine
If you’re not very good in the kitchen or in a chemistry lab, though, just add a glycerin-based toner, facial cleanser, moisturizer, or cosmetics to your daily skincare routine!
Start your day right with a cleanse-tone-moisturize routine and round it off with flawless glycerin-based make-up for hydrated skin. As always, patch test before introducing any new product.
Here are our top picks:
- Cleanse your face with the First Aid Beauty (FAB) Face Cleanser. This wash is cleansing, but not stripping, and it’s safe for even for pregnant women!
- Glycerin isn’t just for your face! Wash your body with the Aveeno Positively Nourishing Hydrating Body Wash. It’s actually designed for Keratosis Pilaris, but it works well for all skin types, even oily skin.
- Remember, sunscreen is key. And sunscreen with glycerin is always a plus. For broad-spectrum protection, you can try the CosRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream.
- Apply moisturizer as a base before any foundation. The CosRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisure Cream is chock-full of amazing ingredients like ceramide and glycerin!
- If you’ve got some blemishes, banish those ugly black dots with the L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Concealer. Its palette suits Asian skin, too!
- Finally, set some foundation. The NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation draws moisture from the air while giving you even, medium coverage, so you’re ready to face the day!
How to Use Glycerin on Face at Night:
It’s when you’re home at night when you notice just how much pollution can age your skin. A solid nightly skin routine can take years off, and adding a few drops of glycerin to the mix won’t hurt!
Here’s a glycerin-charged nighttime routine:
- Wash the day away with Cerave Cleansing Foam. A pH-balanced cleanser sets the tone for your serums and oils to absorb into the deeper layers of your skin.
- For a simple toner, try the Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner. The glycerin and centella asiatica power combo hydrates your skin and soothes redness, too!
- For a nighttime serum, the MediCube Red Serum is my personal pick. It also helps clear out your acne. What a plus!
- Need an eye cream at night? The Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream has you covered. It helps tighten the under-eye area to reduce dark circles and crow’s feet.
Using Glycerin for Skin Concerns:
When you combine glycerin with other wonder products, you can solve a variety of skin problems. Acne? Eczema? Split lips? No problem!
Applying glycerin helps soothe irritation for any skin type, even the most sensitive. And allergic reactions to glycerin are super rare!
But as always, patch test any new products before using them regularly on the affected area, and avoid contact with open wounds. You might have an allergic reaction to the other ingredients in these products.
And for more specialized skin concerns, always consult a board-certified dermatologist.
Did you know you can get acne from dried-out skin? To reduce acne, you can try this recipe:
- Prepare a tablespoon of glycerin, half a tablespoon of borax, and a glass of distilled water.
- Mix until you form a smooth face.
- Apply glycerin mix on your skin and wait for it to dry.
If you’re not into mixing and cooking, you can always use a glycerin-based glycolic acid solution like Bliss That’s Incredi-peel Glycolic Resurfacing Pads.
That way, you don’t have to worry about messing up your face with homemade ingredients.
Banish Blackheads and Comedones
A day’s pollution can leave a muck of dirty oils and grime on your face. You’ll even see a sprinkling of blackheads all over your nose. Yuck!
Try this recipe to banish blackheads to oblivion:
- Prepare four tablespoons (about one fourths cup) of coarsely ground almond powder and two teaspoons of glycerin.
- Mix into a paste, incorporating the almond and smoothing out any lumps.
- Apply a thin layer on the affected region and let it dry for a little while.
- Rinse off the paste with water.
And again, if making your own products isn’t for you, that’s no problem! This is a no-judgment zone. Plus, we have to baby our skin, right?
You can just use an exfoliating non-comedogenic cleanser like the SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub to wash the outer layer of the skin from dirt and grime and keep your skin soft, hydrated, and blackhead-free.
Non-comedogenic formulas won’t cause clogged pores so they’re great at preventing blackheads.
Now we know why skin care companies love glycerin. It’s affordable, it’s everywhere, and it’s effective.
If you haven’t tried glycerin yet, give it a shot!
Let your skin drink all the good stuff by adding glycerin to your daily routine.
September 10, 2021 – Updated content