The Benefits of Glycerin in Skin Care

The Benefits of Glycerin in Skin Care

In the world of skin care, there are several hardworking ingredients that get very little attention but can be vital to the performance of a skin care product. Glycerin is one such ingredient! Glycerin’s uses in skin care are numerous, but first, what is glycerin?

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin is a natural component of healthy skin. It’s also known as glycerine and glycerol, the latter being the term most often seen in studies about this ingredient.

Whether derived from vegetable or animal sources, or made synthetically, glycerin is hygroscopic. What that means is that glycerin can draw moisture from the air around us and help keep that moisture in skin. Another word for hygroscopic is humectant. Other humectants include propylene glycol, AHAs such as glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, and sorbitol.

Research has shown that glycerin mimics what’s known as skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which is why it’s compatible with all skin types, of all ages. Replenishing skin’s NMF is important because it becomes depleted as we age, are subject to environmental exposure, and use irritating ingredients like denatured alcohol.

Needless to say, glycerin is good for skin!

Glycerin Skin Care Benefits

Glycerin’s skin benefits are numerous, but it primarily serves to hydrate skin and help it hold on to moisture. Glycerin’s benefits also include:

  • Helping to shield skin from environmental sources of irritation.
  • Working with emollients and oils to make dry skin feel amazingly soft and supple.
  • Fortifying and strengthening skin’s precious moisture barrier.
  • Enhancing the penetration of other ingredients into skin’s uppermost layers.
  • Improving skin’s resiliency and youthful look.

Glycerin is also involved in the transport and activity of aquaporins in our skin’s surface. Aquaporins are proteins that channel the flow of vital hydrating substances (including water and glycerol) to skin’s uppermost layers. They play a key role in maintaining skin’s moisture balance, keeping it feeling smooth and comfortable even in drier climates.

Glycerin has a long history of safe use, and is considered non-allergenic and suitable for breakout-prone skin. There’s every reason to look for skin care products that contain this unsung hero ingredient— from cleansers to serums to, of course, moisturizers.

Learn more about moisturizers.

References for this information:

International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2016, ePublication
Journal of Allergy and Therapy, volume 4, Issue 4, 2013, pages 1–6
European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, December 2013, pages 638–645
Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, volume 190, 2009, pages 205–217
British Journal of Dermatology, July 2008, pages 23–34
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2007, pages 75–82


About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!