If ingredients in skin care represented
people, glycerin would definitely embody the fun, popular friend who happens to
be good at everything. The substance is extremely well-known to be beneficial
for every skin type in any given climate, making it a leading ingredient in the majority of products we see on a daily basis. Its non-comedogenic nature allows glycerin to work as a great toner for oily skin while also managing to
prevent dryness and wrinkles. Some other talents? Minimizing pore size, fixing
chapped lips, fading dark circles and adding elasticity to the skin. So where
does this magical ingredient even come from?
According to cosmetic chemist Perry
Romanowski, glycerin can be found naturally in plant fats or can be
synthetically created through a soap-making process called saponification. When
natural oils are used to make soap, the byproduct essentially becomes glycerin
and the soap itself. The material is classified as a humectant, which is what
allows it to be so adept to different conditions. Humectants are critical to
natural, healthy skin and are categorized as materials that attract and absorb
water. Other humectants include propylene glycol and glycolic acid, all a branch of glycerin.
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The most fascinating thing about glycerin is
perhaps that it legitimately sucks the water out of the air and leads it right
to where the skin needs it most. Residing on the surface of the skin, the substance
locks moisture in while simultaneously protecting the skin from air pollutants and dirt. As if this process wasn’t amazing enough, glycerin also
pulls the water from deeper layers of skin to keep it from drying on the
interior as well as the exterior.
The element also has the capability of
hydrating and moisturizing the skin in unison. (Few are aware of the
difference between the two, however, hydration is a reflection of the amount of
water in the body and moisture refers to the protection of the skin.) With
this power, glycerin keeps the skin feeling soft, supple and looking young.
It’s evident that glycerin plays a prominent
role in skin care, but its incredible abilities make it a staple in other arenas as well. According to Romanowski, in makeup specifically, glycerin helps
to make the film stay flexible and prevents cracking. With relevance to hair
care, glycerin is often found in leave-in conditioners and hydrating hair masks.
With publicity comes debate, and many who use pure glycerin alone find
that the matter leaves a sticky feeling on the skin. Fortunately, most
companies that sell products with glycerin mix it with lipids and oils to
create a lighter and more comfortable application and wear. Below, some of our
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum ($134)
With an abundant amount of glycerin—along with glycolic, lactic, tartaric and salicylic acids—this
product works for all skin types. After washing your face, apply this serum on
at night to wake up with supple and radiant skin.
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA ($8)
This oil-free hydrating moisturizer delivers a double benefit by protecting and caring for the skin at the same time.
Eau Thermale Avene Skin Recovery Cream ($35)
Designed for sensitive skin, this hydrating
moisturizer heals and treats skin’s outer layer while preventing future
irritation and fine lines.
SkinCeuticals Triple Liquid Restore 2:4:2 ($128)
To add brightness and life to the skin, this
blend of glycerin, vitamin E and antioxidants does just the trick. Upon
application, it dissolves quickly into the skin and with daily use, you’ll see a significant difference in your skin’s moisture and texture.
Aesop. Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm ($97)
The non-greasy, light texture of this product contradicts the common misconception of body lotion being heavy and uncomfortable. Glycerin goes hand in hand with macadamia and sandalwood to create a luscious balm that quenches parched skin.
Paula’s Choice Enriched Calming Toner ($21)
Formulated to remove makeup, cleanse and hydrate, this glycerin-based toner improves skin’s defenses against environmental
variables, stress hormones, collagen loss and of course moisture.