What Is Glycerin?

Glycerin is a naturally occurring molecule which increases water retention within the skin, keeping it moist and supple. This effective skincare ingredient is a powerful humectant that can be derived from one of three forms; vegetable glycerin, animal or synthetic. Its humectant properties mean that it works as a magnet to pull moisture out of both the air and the deeper layers of skin, to deliver it to the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) for optimal hydration.

Frequently Asked Questions About Glycerin

  • Glycerin’s main benefit for skin is its ability to capture water and keep it located on the skin’s top layer, ensuring skin stays smooth, soft and supple. In addition to maintaining skin’s hydration, glycerin also fortifies and strengthens the skin barrier function, protecting the body by compensating for transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Glycerin also shields against environmental skin irritants, while improving texture and enhancing the penetration of other key skincare products such as serums.
    The non-comedogenic, non-allergenic and gentle function of glycerin means that it is suitable for all skin types, including acne and eczema-prone skin, making it a beneficial addition to each and every  skincare routine.

  • Due to its emollient form, glycerin in cosmetics is often found in moisturiserslotions  and cleansers, to add intense moisture to skin and boost softer, more supple results. This makes it an effective ingredient in cleansers as it ensures hydration is replenished, instead of being stripped out of skin while washing away makeup, dirt and impurities. Likewise, moisturisers, creams and lotions formulated with glycerin use this valuable ingredient to add a powerful shield of moisture to skin for added protection against environmental aggressors and to strengthen the skin barrier function. 

  • Despite glycerin offering intense moisture, the ingredient boasts an incredibly lightweight, gentle and non-comedogenic formula that sits comfortably on the surface of skin without clogging up pores. This feature of glycerin means it is suited to all skin types including  dry oily and  combination , as well as acne, rosacea and eczema-prone skin, due to its non-reactive and non-irritant properties.

  • Glycerin in skin care makes an effective ingredient for bodily use, particularly in hands, feet and elbows and other areas prone to dryness. The well-tolerated ingredient, suitable for all skin types, can be found within the  CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser  for face and body, where it is formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to boost moisture on the skin’s outer layer without disrupting the protective skin barrier.

  • Due to its moisture-locking properties, as well as its sensitive, fragrance-free nature, glycerin makes a tolerated ingredient for eczema-prone skin.
    The CeraVe Eye Repair Cream  features glycerin as part of its formula, adding 24 hour hydration with patented MVE Technology, and has the Eczema Association of Australasia Inc (EAA) stamp to certify its suitability for eczema-prone skin. 

  • Due to glycerin’s gentle, non-reactive composition, it works well when combined with many other skincare ingredients as part of a formula. Glycerin and  hyaluronic acid work extremely well together due to their shared humectant and moisturising properties. Where glycerin absorbs moisture at the skin’s surface, hyaluronic acid is able to bind over 1,000 times its weight in water, making the ultimate combination for hydrating skincare products. The CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser incorporates both of these ingredients for an intensely hydrating formula that simultaneously cleanses and attracts moisture at the skin’s outer layer for a fresh yet nourished result. Ceramides are another key skincare ingredient that work well with the addition of glycerin. In fact, ceramides are most effective when combined with glycerin,  amino acids  or cholesterol, forming lipids that work to improve skin texture with a boost of hydration that smooths and softens the skin.

  • A common misconception surrounding the ingredient, is the difference between glycerin vs glycerol. Glycerol is the pure form that is often used within medical products. Glycerin typically contains over 95% glycerol and is used in an array of skincare products including moisturisers, cleansers and lotions. Both chemical compounds are transparent, odourless and exude properties that characterise a powerful moisturising agent.

  • Glycerin is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores due to its extremely lightweight composition that works to attract and seal moisture at the skin's surface. This feature of glycerin means that despite its intensely moisturising properties, it does not lead to breakouts or an unrefined skin texture caused by clogged pores and is therefore suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone.

  • Humectants, including glycerin, are typically used at a concentration of 5% or less and are formulated with other ingredients with skin softening properties such as other emoillients. This is because the pure form of humectants (100% concentration) can increase water loss in the skin when in areas of low humidity. When concentrations are kept lower than 5%, humectants are at their most effective and can work to efficiently fight off dryness while maintaining moisture levels in the skin.

  • Glycerin is a natural compound that is extracted from vegetable oils or animal fats. Vegetable glycerin works to attract and lock in moisture, for a smooth, healthy complexion.
    On a molecular level, the chemical formula of glycerin is C3H8O3, meaning it contains three carbon atoms, eight hydrogen and three oxygen. Within this formula, the three oxygen molecules pair up with three hydrogen molecules to form -OH groups, and it is due to these groups that glycerin become hygroscopic and therefore easily retains water

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