When you're fighting dry, winter skin, you want the best moisturizers around; we're talking the juiciest ingredients you can get your parched, cracked hands and lips on. That's why you'll want to look for glycerin in all your skin care products. But isn’t glycerin just water?
Let’s take a look together on what glycerin does for our skin…
What Is Glycerin?
We know that your skin care dictionary is already bursting at the seams but trust us, this is one that you need to save and file.
Glycerin works as a humectant, it attracts moisture from the air into the stratum corneum (top layer of skin), and due to its low molecular weight, will continue to draw moisture to the deeper layers of the dermis. It has a molecular weight of approximately 92 g/mol, which means it is able to penetrate deep into the skin.
Glycerin is a natural occurring compound in the body. In topical skin care, it’s derived from plants. In other words, after you apply glycerin, the magic happens deep inside the skin. Once it's absorbed, it can get to where it's needed, replenishing the moisture your skin loses. Hyaluronic acid is another good serum-option for helping hydrate dry skin, but glycerin is best when it’s already in a rich face cream to boost all the other nourishing ingredients!
Moisturizers typically contain three types of ingredients. There's occlusive moisturizers, which help to form a protective barrier over the skin to lock in moisture. Then there's the emollients, which smooth any rough edges on the cellular level. Most emollient materials are oils that repel water. They can improve the way skin feels but don't actually moisturize.
And you can't forget about humectants, like glycerin. Glycerin is a colorless and odorless liquid that comes from plant sources. It’s a humectant, which means it has the property of attracting water to itself.
Yeah, that's right. It's a moisturizer that actually attracts more moisture. Glycerin is essentially like a sponge that pulls in water to the outer skin layer. It can attract water from the deeper skin layers or even the air in humid environments. It also helps slow the evaporation of water from your skin to help foil that chronic winter dryness. In short, it's a skin secret weapon!
Benefits of Glycerin for Skin
It's an effective moisturizer: Though you might not have actively sought it out, chances are, glycerin is already a mainstay in your medicine cabinet. Cosmetic chemists will use it in most formulations because of how effective it is in terms of moisturizing. When you're battling dry, dehydrated, or cracked skin, you'll take some added moisture wherever you can get it.
It helps protect skin against harsh products: glycerin is used a lot in pharmaceutical creams, promoted by doctors to treat extreme dryness and repair skin elasticity. It keeps your skin soft, supple, and hydrated, which is essential as we use harsh soapy products, which strip away our natural oils.
It prevents the loss of moisture: The difference between glycerin- and non-glycerin-based products? Oils and serums are meant to penetrate the skin barrier and be absorbed by the skin. Thicker products, like those that include glycerin, are meant to support the skin barrier by covering the outside. They prevent loss of water in the skin, which allows natural oils to nourish and repair.
The Takeaway of Glycerin in Skin Care
Because glycerin attracts water to itself, using products with the super hydrator leaves your skin with an overall moisturizing and smoothing effect. It can be a powerhouse moisturizer mixed with other emollients or even on its own.
It's especially effective on your most stubborn rough spots, like callouses. The glycerin can actually signal your superficial skin cells to mature more rapidly. Translation: a speedier route to soft skin.
Glycerin is also an incredibly effective moisturizer when used in a cleanser. When cleansing the skin, it’s important to remove dirt and oil, but maintain the health of the outer skin layer. Ingredients like glycerin can help maintain hydration and prevent skin irritation during the cleansing process. So glycerin is a staple during winter and don’t be afraid to layer it on before bed and during the day with your favorite glycerin-filled face cream!