All Ingredients: Glycerin
- Incidecoder Rating: Superstar
- EWG Rating: 1 (Best)
- PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan
- Origin: Hydrolysis of oil from coconut and palm kernels, sustainably grown in Malaysia.
Glycerin doesn’t sound very glamorous but it is a real oldie goodie. It’s been used in cosmetics for more than 50 years and it’s a totally natural ingredient that’s also in the outermost layer of our skin (called stratum corneum - SC).
It’s a so-called humectant type of moisturizer meaning that it helps our skin to cling onto water. A 2005 study has shown that glycerin levels correlate with skin hydration levels, so more glycerin means better hydrated skin.
As newer studies examine glycerin it turns out more and more that it’s not just a simple humectant but also does some other important things:
- It makes sure that the gooey stuff between the skin cells is neither too diluted nor too concentrated (it’s called osmoregulation)
- It helps to maintain the healthy state of the cell membranes and intracellular lipids (keeping the lipids in a nice liquid crystal state that is optimal for barrier function)
- It can normalize skin shedding in very dry skin.
- It protects against skin irritation (such as washing your face too much and/or too aggressively)
What this all means is that glycerin is a real superstar and helps to maintain the healthy state of our skin in several ways.
And there is even more. If your skin is severely dry, you have to read this. A large-scale study done with 394 guys and girls with dry skin compared two high-glycerin (containing 25% and 40% glycerin) moisturizers to 16 other popular moisturizers on the market (that had less than 6% glycerin). The two high-glycerin ones won hands down. They had superior, quick-acting hydrating properties and they also seemed to create a “reservoir” of moisture-holding ability in the skin. This means that even after not using the high-glycerin moisturizer the skin stayed hydrated longer compared to all the other low glycerin moisturizers.
So bottom line: glycerin is a real goodie and far more than a simple moisturizer. In our opinion, it is an underappreciated superstar that deserves more spotlight than it is currently getting.
- Leslie Baumann, MD, Cosmetic Dermatology, 2nd edition, Glycerin- pages 275
- The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2005 Aug,125 (2), 288-93, Is endogenous glycerol a determinant of stratum corneum hydration in humans?
- Dry Skin and Moisturizers: Chemistry and Function, Marie Loden, Howard I. Maibach, Chapter 20, Glycerol - Just a Moisturizer? Biological and Biophysical Effects