Glycerin is a well-known, hero ingredient found in our favourite skincare creams and serums, but now Tiktok users are turning their attention to its raw form: pure glycerin.
Rather than seeking moisturisers with high percentages of glycerin, the trend focuses on using the ingredient in its purest, untouched state to reap the benefits.
With its affordable price tag sitting under a tenner, searches for ‘how to use glycerin’, ‘glycerin hack’, and ‘pure glycerin’ are soaring on the platform. While #glycerin and #glycerine hashtags collectively have 70 million views.
Although the ingredient is a renowned superstar, there are still important factors to be aware of. Here, we uncover what you need to know.
WHAT IS GLYCERIN?
Glycerin also goes by the monikers glycerol and glycerine and is a humectant skincare ingredient.
Humectants are amazing for dry, dehydrated skin as they work like a sponge – attracting and retaining moisture in the skin. That’s why, it’s typically found in moisturisers and hydrating serums. Other celebrity humectants include hyaluronic acid.
It’s historically derived from lipids in plant and animal fat, but it’s also chemically synthesised, too. It’s non-toxic and is actually a skin-identical ingredient naturally found in our stratum corneum.
The reason for its superstar ability is down to its low molecular weight being able to penetrate deeper into our skin. Studies have shown that its hydrating properties remain within the skin for several days.
WHY IS THE USE OF PURE GLYCERIN POPULAR?
Glycerin comes with numerous benefits on its CV.
First of all, it’s particularly useful for those with sensitive, reactive skin and improves sensitivities by strengthening the skin barrier.
Your skin barrier is the protective shield on your skin. It repels potential aggressors and pathogens, but only if it’s strong and able to work optimally. A key role of the skin barrier is to limit water loss, but, when the barrier is compromised, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) kicks into action. This leads to dehydrated skin.
Glycerin is a beneficial ingredient to combat this, due to its ability to attract and retain moisture from the environment. This, coupled with it being sensitive-approved, means it’s a great option for those struggling with a compromised barrier and skin flare-ups, without the risk of causing further irritation.
On top of this, purchasing it pure also comes with a much cheaper price tag and makes a good body moisturiser, too.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES?
Though glycerin has earned a reputation for being a superstar ingredient, when used pure, it does come with a couple of cons.
- Does not harm the skin microbiome.
- It has emollient properties that can soften the skin. This can be beneficial for rough patches caused by Eczema or Psoriasis.
- Safe to use for sensitive and reactive skin.
- Increases skin hydration which is helpful for compromised skin barriers.
- Relieves dryness.
- Antimicrobial properties that protect the skin from disruptive microorganisms.
- Studies show that glycerin penetrates the skin and increases the water volume between cells to give skin a plumper, firmer appearance.
- Enhances skin elasticity due to how it interacts with collagen.
- It’s a syrupy texture that can feel sticky on the skin, this is why glycerin is often included in lower amounts in skincare products
- If a high concentrate, it’s best to dilute to ensure it’s still safe
- With DIY formulas if water is added, it can go off quicker
MYTH-BUSTER: ‘GLYCERIN LEADS TO SUN SENSITIVITY’
One disadvantage we’ve seen lurking on the internet is that glycerin can make the skin more sensitive to the sun.
There is no evidence or research to back this claim. Nor is there research to support glycerin causing skin harm or a reaction. Only in extremely rare cases would someone have a reaction to glycerin.
IMPORTANT TIPS TO KNOW
Firstly, glycerin works best with water, so to make the most out of it, apply it to damp skin. This helps the molecules penetrate further.
When diluting pure glycerin and adding water or other water-based things to it, make sure you use it quickly. It’s prone to microbial growth if not preserved properly, so either mix-as-you-go or store well and use up within a week.
Skin Trust Club’s Scientific Skincare Advisor, Tracey Ryan says: “For cosmetic chemists, it’s a super helpful ingredient when making emulsions.
“We need to use gums to give more stability to emulsions and some of the gums, especially the more natural ones, are very hard to incorporate into the water phase, they clump up.
“So we add the gum to glycerine first and then add that to the water and it mixes perfectly. We call it “slurrying” the gum and glycerine.”
Replying to @olamijuforever for all the girls asking me WTF to do with glycerine ~ this one’s for you 🙋🏾♀️💦 #glycerine #skincarehacks #skincaretips #skincaretricks #dryskintips
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