Glycerin In Skincare – Is It Good For My Skin?
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If you are anything like me, reading labels for the product is a regular ritual before making any purchases. And, you must have encountered Glycerin among the top ingredients of every other skincare product! It is one of the most used ingredients in skincare products, just behind aqua and fragrances. Have you ever wondered if it is good for your skin?
Well, it depends on two things: how was glycerin made and the condition of your skin!
This article will give you all the information you need to know if this ingredient is good for your skin. Read on to find out everything you need to know about glycerin!
- What is glycerin made of?
- Is glycerin natural or synthetic?
- Why is glycerin added to skincare?
- Is glycerin a safe ingredient?
- Glycerin benefits for your skin.
- What are the possible side effects of glycerin?
- Who should not use glycerin?
- Does glycerin cause acne?
- What is a substitute for Glycerin?
- Can we make glycerin at home?
- The Bottom Line
What Is Glycerin Made Of?
Discovered in 1779 by Chemist Carl Scheele, Glycerin is also known as glycerol or simple Glycerin. It is an odorless and colorless liquid of syrupy consistency. Chemically, Glycerin is a trihydroxy sugar alcohol, a derivative of propane. It is sweet, and it gets its name from the word, "glykys'' meaning sweet in Greek.
Is Glycerin Natural or Synthetic?
Glycerin is generally available in both forms. It can be produced synthetically, or it can be extracted naturally from vegetable oils and plants.
Animal fats or vegetable and plant oils react with water and break down to form glycerin. The process is called hydrolysis. This form of Glycerin is 100 % natural. While natural glycerin can be obtained from multiple sources, most companies prefer to use vegetable glycerin as it is the most cost-effective method.
The production of synthetic glycerin involves complex processes done on substances such as allyl chloride, propylene oxide, acrolein, epichlorohydrin, and petroleum.
During one Glycerine-synthesizing process, allyl chloride is oxidized with hypochlorite to make dichlorohydrin. Dichlorohydrin is then converted to epichlorohydrin. Finally, the hydrolysis of epichlorohydrin yields a glycerin solution.
The synthetic form of Glycerin came under fire because some of these substances are considered to have toxic residues due to which they are deemed dangerous and harmful for health. For example, prolonged exposure to allyl chloride can lead to toxic polyneuropathy, which is basically damage to multiple nerves.
Why is Glycerin Added to Skincare?
Glycerin is used in cosmetic products for its exceptional moisturizing properties. A natural humectant, Glycerin is a type of moisturizer that pulls water content from the surrounding air as well as the deeper skin layers, onto the outer layer of the skin.
It is most commonly combined with occlusives — moisturizing agents that trap the moisture pulled by Glycerin on the skin's upper layer. It acts as a skin- conditioner, keeping the skin soft, supple, and hydrated. It improves the skin texture and protects it against environmental stressors.
Is Glycerin a Safe Ingredient?
Natural Glycerin is recognized as a safe ingredient by the FDA. It is a non-toxic sugar alcohol that is not only used in skincare products but also in food and pharmaceutical products. It can also be used in sugar-free deserts as a 0- calorie sweetener because of its taste. It is also used as a base for toothpaste. Another proof of its safety is the fact that it is used in more than 120 baby products!
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Glycerin Benefits for Your Skin
When it comes to skincare, glycerine has many well beneficial uses that have been researched well by scientists. These include:
1. It is the perfect skin moisturizer.
Glycerin absorbs moisture from the surrounding, just like a sponge. It forms a film on the surface of the skin, reducing the water evaporation from the skin, keeping it hydrated and moist during the winters.
2. Keeps your skin young and glowing.
When Glycerin is applied to the skin, it traps your skin's moisture, giving it a healthy and youthful glow. As mentioned before, Glycerin is a humectant; therefore, it draws moisture from the surroundings as well as from the deeper layers of the skin to the top layer of the skin. It slows down the appearance of signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines, giving your skin a smooth and soft look.
3. It protects the skin.
During the winter season, when the air's humidity decreases, it can cause the skin moisture to evaporate from the skin faster than usual. This results in the skin becoming dry and flack.
Cracks in the skin due to dryness are susceptible to infection. In such conditions, daily usage of the Glycerin infused moisturizer locks the skin moisture in protecting our hands, elbows, knee area, and feet from getting dry.
When we take a shower, our skin loses its natural oils as they wash away. Using soaps containing Glycerin or applying Glycerin to the skin after the bath will help hold moisture of your skin.
4. Glycerin plays a role in reducing skin acne.
Most of the soaps and cleansers we use these days have harsh chemicals that can cause acne or make existing acne worse. It causes inflammation and irritation.
A study done in 2015 concluded that Glycerin contains anti-irritant as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Substituting harsh chemicals with glycerine-infused products can reduce the chances of skin acne and heals the existing one.
5. It heals your skin
Glycerin acts as a perfect rescue system for dry, cracked, and damaged skin. It increases the hydration of the skin. It helps in treating skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Glycerin also helps in healing the wounds that result from cracked skin. It improves the skin's overall functioning and promotes healthy skin by protecting it against skin irritants and accelerating the healing process of the wounds.
What are the possible side effects of Glycerin?
Generally recognized as a safe ingredient, Glycerin is a non-toxic trihydric alcohol. It does not have any side effects when used in skincare products. However, when fully concentrated Glycerin is used on the skin, it may cause irritation.
Natural products like Glycerin may cause allergic reactions in some cases. In case of irritation, rash, or redness, do not use the product and look for substitute products that do not contain Glycerin.
Who Should Not Use Glycerin?
Although, Glycerin is primarily recognized for its numerous positive effects on the skin; however, in some rare conditions, it can affect the skin negatively. When the humidity is too low, Glycerin does not have a source to draw the moisture from the surrounding, so it absorbs all the water from lower layers of skin, depriving them of moisture.
This can lead to deep dehydration of the skin, which may even lead to blistering. So, it is less about who should use Glycerin but more about how and when it should be used.
Experts recommend not using pure Glycerin on the skin; instead, infuse it with rose water. Rosewater is well known for its hydrating properties and provides an external source for Glycerin to draw moisture.
Does Glycerin cause acne?
No, Glycerin does not cause acne! In fact, it is known for reducing acne. The leading cause of breakouts and acne is clogged pores. As Glycerin is oil-free and is non-comedogenic, it does not clog your pores, making it perfect for oily and acne-prone skin.
What is a Substitute for Glycerin?
In skincare, Glycerin can be substituted by ceramides for its moisturizing properties and the ability to regulate skin cell functioning. Naturally produces butter and oils can also work as substitutes for Glycerin, such as:
· Shea butter
· Jojoba oil
· Cocoa butter
· Avocado oil
Can we make Glycerin at home?
Yes, Glycerin can be made at home, using everyday use utensils. Here is a quick recipe for making Glycerin at home:
In a saucepan, heat a cup of olive oil and coconut oil at a low flame.
Slowly and gradually pour another cup of water together with one teaspoon of lye (a metal hydroxide). Heat the ingredients on low flame for about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture from time to time until it thickens.
Add half a cup of salt to the mixture and allow it to cool. When it has cooled down, scrape off soap-like material from the top and pour the Glycerin in a bottle or jar with a tight seal. Store it in a refrigerator for up to one month.
All in all, Glycerin might have many benefits for your skin, but only if it's derived from vegetables or other natural resources. Under extremely dry conditions, it can have the opposite effect on your skin, so it is always advisable to use Glycerin that has been infused with other hydrating substances.
It is advisable to make sure that Glycerin does not react with your skin. It is always better not to use 100% pure glycerin; instead, infuse it with other hydrating substances such as rose water for better results. In case your skin is sensitive to Glycerin, you may substitute it with naturally occurring oils and different kinds of butter.
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