This ingredient isn’t normally one that many people think about, but it has a lot of the same benefits as many of our favourite ingredients - namely, hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid. Glycerin is a staple skincare ingredient that’s been in a lot of our favourite products for decades - here’s why.
What Is Glycerin?
You might be wondering, what is glycerin, exactly? Glycerin is a type of sugar alcohol - now, that’s different to denatured alcohol, which may dry out the skin. But that’s a topic for a different day! It’s also sometimes called ‘glycerine’ or ‘glycerol’ - these are just different names for the exact same molecule.
Glycerin is most commonly derived from plant-based sources like sugarcane and soy. It’s a classic skincare ingredient - chances are, almost every product in your skincare contains glycerin!
You might be wondering, how come? What makes this ingredient so good that it’s in almost every skincare product? Well, that starts with understanding what kind of ingredient glycerin is. Glycerin falls into the humectant family of skincare ingredients - meaning, it’s able to draw water into the skin, boosting hydration for a dewy, plump glow.
A 2016 study even found that glycerin is “the most effective humectant” - as in, it’s even more effective than hyaluronic acid, urea, and AHAs at attracting water into the skin! So it’s no wonder why glycerin is a skincare ingredient that’s in practically everything - it works great for every single skin type to boost hydration for healthy, radiant skin.
Dr Irena Eris Authority Beauty Flash Mask | $299
This mask from Dr Irena Eris instantly improves hydration with a combination of glycerin and other nourishing skincare ingredients.
Glycerin Benefits for Skin
So, how does glycerin benefit skin, exactly? As a humectant, it has a crucial role to play in skin health. It can directly affect how well your skin (and acid mantle) functions - here are all the glycerin benefits for skin.
1. Improved Skin Hydration
As a humectant, it’s no surprise that glycerin has a proven benefit of improving skin hydration. It sounds simple, but having hydrated skin is the basis of every good skincare routine.
Why? Well, you know that natural radiance and luminosity that most people are chasing for their skin? Being able to get that is a combination of good exfoliation and proper hydration, which creates a smooth skin surface that literally reflects light better - creating the appearance of luminous, radiant skin.
Glycerin works well with other humectants and ingredients - a study found that a solution of just 5% Glycerin combined with Hyaluronic Acid and Centella Asiatica Extract was able to improve hydration and prevent trans-epidermal water loss (aka TEWL), which is the scientific way to say water evaporating away from our skin.
Lancôme Absolue Yeux Premium Bx Eye Cream | $215
Boost under-eye hydration and radiance with this potent eye cream from Lancôme.
2. Boosted Skin Barrier Function
Another reason why there is glycerin in skincare is its ability to improve skin barrier function. By now, we all know how critical this barrier is to keep our skin healthy - it keeps what we need in (mainly water) and keeps outside irritants out, such as pollution particles and acne-causing bacteria.
By boosting hydration, glycerin is able to ensure that your skin barrier is functioning as it should - keeping your skin looking and feeling amazing! This boost to the skin barrier also works hand in hand with glycerin’s ability to speed up skin healing, ensuring your skin bounces back from any accidental irritation or breakouts faster than it would without.
Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Serum Concentrate | $136
Perfect for all skin types, this serum from Shiseido supports a healthy skin barrier with a combination of glycerin and beta glucan.
3. Enhances Skin Elasticity
This one gets bounced around a lot (pun intended), but what does skin elasticity even mean? Elasticity refers to your skin’s ability to stretch and bounce and is determined by two things: how much collagen you have in your skin, and how hydrated it is. Studies have found that glycerin improves skin elasticity by attracting water into the skin for skin that’s springy and hydrated.
That’s what makes humectants so effective at temporarily improving the appearance of any fine lines and wrinkles - the improved hydration fills out these fine lines for smoother, bouncier skin.
Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Essence-in-Lotion | $187
Prime skin for the rest of your skincare routine with this glycerin-enriched essence from Guerlain.
Now that you know all the benefits of this classic skincare ingredient, will you be double-checking that your skincare has glycerin?
If you’re still looking for the perfect skincare routine for your skin type, try out our skin quiz.