In the world of skincare, there are several hardworking ingredients that get very little attention but can be vital to the performance of a skincare product. Glycerin is one such ingredient! Refined glycerin’s uses in skincare 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 from glycerine refining equipment, 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!
Benefits of Glycerin
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 skincare products that contain this unsung hero ingredient—Paula’s Choice Skincare uses glycerin in dozens of products, from cleansers to serums to, of course, moisturizers.