Glycerin for the skin: Benefits and Uses

Glycerin for the skin: Benefits and Uses

Posted by Brooklyn S. on

Countless skincare products on the market can help you take care of your skin, but if you wish to achieve and maintain a plump, soft, and radiant complexion, glycerin is one of the best options for you. If you're someone who pays keen attention to what their skincare products contain, you might have noticed that glycerin is often listed as an ingredient in various lotions, creams, serums, lip balms, and cleansers. 

But what is glycerin exactly, how does it work, and how can it help your skin when used in your regular skincare routine? We're here to help you know everything about this widely used skincare ingredient in skincare products. Let's break down why glycerin needs a spot in your skincare routine!

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin is also called glycerine or glycerol. Its chemical composition comprises numerous hydroxyl groups, while the main constituent of glycerin is lipids or glycerides. These lipids give glycerin the humectant properties that make it so popular in the skincare industry. This thick and viscous fluid has no color or aroma. 

Glycerin is a non-toxic element usually procured from plant-based resources and used in different skincare formulations. However, it can also be obtained from animal-based resources or, more specifically, animal fats. Moreover, some skincare manufacturers also use synthetic glycerin in their products.

How Does Glycerin Work for the Skin?

Glycerin is a moisturizing agent, referred to as a humectant that has the natural attribute of pulling water toward itself. It can draw moisture from your surroundings and deliver it to the skin's epidermal (outer) layer. Glycerin is used in topical products combined with other occlusive compounds to avoid dehydration and dryness by pulling water from deeper layers of the skin and supplying it to the skin cells. But how does that work? Let's understand!

As discussed above, glycerin is made up of hydroxyl groups. These compounds give it the ability to blend with water molecules. This power to mix with water makes it a hygroscopic element. Hygroscopic ingredients act like a sponge that attracts moisture from the air and locks it into the skin cells. Furthermore, it prevents water from escaping through the outer layer of the skin by forming a film on the skin and reinforcing the skin's barrier.

Benefits of Glycerin for the Skin

Here are some reasons you should look for glycerin in the ingredient list of your skincare products and make it a part of your skincare regimen: 

  • Moisturizes and Hydrates the Skin - Needless to say, glycerin is known as one of the best moisturizing and hydrating skincare ingredients. The powerful humectant action of glycerin attracts water from the environment and transports it deep into the skin, yielding exceptional hydrating and moisturizing effects. Hence, if your main skin concern is extremely dry, itchy, and scaly skin, look no further. Glycerin is there to take care of your skin's particular needs. 
  • Enhances the Skin's Barrier Function - You might already know that a healthy and robust skin barrier is essential for keeping the skin looking and feeling great. A compromised lipid barrier can put your skin at a greater risk of various skin issues. One major issue that leads to a damaged or compromised skin barrier is dryness and dehydration. Glycerin is an excellent hydrator that prevents harm to the skin's barrier by retaining moisture and inhibiting the loss of water through the epidermal layer of the skin. As a result of a stronger lipid barrier, your skin looks healthier and plumper.
  • Heals and Repairs the Skin - Another reason to add skincare products with glycerin into your skincare routine is the restorative effect on the skin. If you're struggling with damaged, cracked, and dry skin, this ingredient can come to your rescue and aid in speeding up your skin's healing ability by accelerating cell repair and renewal. Glycerin is also suitable for people striving to manage redness, irritation, and discomfort due to certain skin conditions, like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. The repairing and calming actions of glycerin make it ideal for use as a common ingredient in most anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-aging skincare formulations.
  • Protects from Oxidative Stress - Your skin's lipid barrier is responsible for protecting it from all types of external elements, such as UV rays, bacteria, dirt, free radicals, and other toxins. These harmful agents can damage the skin cells, leading to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, infections, and inflammation.¹  Any damage to the skin's lipid barrier can make your skin more prone to the harmful effects of these external factors and pave the way to various skin problems. Glycerin strengthens the skin barrier, enabling it to fight off these toxins more effectively and shield the skin.
  • Prevents and Slows the Signs of Aging -  oxidative stressors can harshly affect our skin.²  In fact, free radical damage is one of the leading causes that lead to the onset of premature signs of aging. These free radicals can affect the skin cells, fast-tracking the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the cells, giving rise to premature signs of skin aging. Glycerin ensures the integrity of the skin's protective layer and keeps the skin smooth, soft, and elastic. Furthermore, glycerin may also help slow down the process of aging by helping the cells mature properly and guiding the young cells from the deeper layer of the skin to the outer epidermal layer, which also improves the functions of the skin barrier.

Due to the numerous skin benefits glycerin offers, it was at the top of our list when formulating Sundree skincare products. Sundree's RYSE+SHYNE hydrating facial serum is a lightweight serum that includes beauty-boosting ingredients; glycerin and hyaluronic acid to help moisturize and repair the skin barrier. We also added powerhouse ingredients vitamin c and niacinamide to help brighten and reduce signs of hyperpigmentation to help achieve that beautiful, supple skin. 

Why is Glycerin Used in So Many Skincare Products?

In addition to its notable skin benefits, you'll see glycerin in mainstream skincare products on the market due to its natural preserving action that prolongs the shelf life of products. In addition, glycerin preserves other ingredients in skincare formulations and provides anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory advantages, which prevent contamination in the products.

Best Skincare Products with Glycerin 

Now that you know how glycerin works when applied topically through your skincare products, let's move on to how you can find the right products with glycerin. You can find many products with glycerin, like soap, cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and toners. Here's how different skincare products with glycerin can benefit your skin:

  • Soap - The gentle and moisturizing nature of glycerin makes it ideal for use in soap. Glycerin in soap prevents dryness, itching, and irritation, unlike regular soaps with harsh and drying chemicals. Soap or body wash with glycerin is good for treating and moisturizing your entire body.
  • Cleanser - A facial cleanser with glycerin works well for all skin types because it doesn't cause the skin to dry out. Glycerin is non-comedogenic, so you don't have to worry about clogged pores or acne breakouts.³  It keeps skin smooth and soft, along with gently cleansing dirt, oil, and makeup from the face.
  • Toner - If you tend to skip toner in your skincare routine because you dread drying out your skin, look for a toner with glycerin. It will refresh and hydrate your complexion without making your skin feel greasy and sticky or dry and itchy. Toners with glycerin can also shrink enlarged pores while helping regulate the skin's pH level, keeping it balanced and healthy.
  • Moisturizer - Since the most notable feature of glycerin is its moisturizing ability, it's among the top ingredients used in moisturizing formulas. Glycerin is added to many creams, lotion, and gel-based moisturizing products.
  • Facial Mask - Glycerin is often added to facial masks for deep, immediate hydrating, and moisturizing actions—the anti-aging capabilities of glycerin helps to minimize the pesky signs of aging. If you want to achieve glowing and vibrant skin instantly, apply a facial mask with glycerin for a few minutes and enjoy gorgeous-looking skin. 
  • Serum - This lightweight ingredient is perfect for adding to a brightening, age-defying, nourishing, or hydrating serum. Glycerin in a facial serum locks moisture in the skin, making it plumper, softer, and even-toned.

Final Thoughts

Glycerin is used in many skincare products on the market and for all the right reasons. This popular compound is known as one of the most effective and gentle humectant ingredients out there. Besides deeply moisturizing and hydrating the skin, glycerin offers additional skin benefits as well, making it a great candidate for treating and managing many skin concerns, such as dryness, dehydration, inflammation, and wrinkles. You can choose from a variety of skincare products and incorporate them into your daily skincare routine to reap the benefits of glycerin.

So, if you're battling dull, dry, saggy, and uneven skin, make glycerin-rich skincare products a vital part of your skincare rituals.



  1. Callahan, Chrissy.(2019). ‘What are free radicals, and how do they affect your skin?’, Today, Accessed December 2, 2021. Available at:
  2. Eske, Jamie. (2019). ‘How does oxidative stress affect the body?’, MedicalNewsToday, Accessed December 2, 2021. Available at:
  3. Newton, A.A. (2019). ‘Here’s How to Tell if Your Skin-Care Products Are Actually Noncomedogenic’, Self, Accessed Decemeber 3, 2021. Available at:


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