Glycerin is a common ingredient in cosmetics – not only does it improve their consistency and extend durability but also has moisturizing and repairing properties. What’s the role of glycerin in beauty products? In other words, what cosmetic uses does it have? How to use glycerin?
Glycerin – properties & types
Glycerin (glycerol, polyol) is a by-product of the soap production. This thick, colorless, scentless liquid has a sweet taste and is easily dissolved in water and alcohol.
There are two types of glycerol: natural and synthetic. Natural glycerin is obtained from vegetable fat during saponification while synthetic glycerin – from propylene (gas extracted from petroleum). Synthetic glycerin is more common but it has the same effect in the body as natural glycerin. The way of extracting glycerin matters for people who don’t use animal-derived substances. My piece of advice: give up on beauty products containing Glycerin (synthetic) and choose ones with Glycerin vegetal (natural).
Glycerin – cosmetic properties
Glycerin isn’t fat-soluble but it makes a good fat solvent, therefore it’s often added to creams and lipsticks. Moreover, it neutralizes dehydrating effect of ethyl alcohol and prevents cosmetics from drying out. It also enhances the process of preservation through reducing the activity of water – food for germs. Thanks to tiny molecules that glycerin is made of, it can easily penetrate the epidermis, transporting nutrients to the inner skin layers.
The properties of glycerin depend on its content in a cosmetic: if it’s 5-15%, it gives the product a moisturizing effect. If it’s over 25%, the cosmetic has disinfecting and drying properties. Note though: a high concentration of glycerin applied to skin forms a barrier that prevents water from reaching the skin.
Glycerin – cosmetic uses
Glycerin is infused into moisturizers and body lotions because it has the ability to store and bind water in the epidermis, which gives long-lasting supply of moisture, elasticity and smoothness. As an ingredient in hand and foot creams, it softens dry, callused skin. As far as antiaging products go, glycerin reduces wrinkles and stimulates cell renewal. Glycerin makes up the base for protective creams that keep the skin safe from wind and freezing weather. In hair care products, it strengthens the follicles, prevents hair loss and repairs split ends.
How to use glycerin?
You can either use readymade products containing glycerin or buy its pure form to make your natural beauty products such as hair mask or eyeshadow primer. Glycerin rarely causes allergic reactions so it works for any type of skin, including atopic skin. If you want to use it on hair, add a few drops to your conditioner or mask. This way you moisturize the tresses.