All hail glycerine.

Now at first glance, it may sound a strange thing to say about this inconspicuous ingredient.

But once you understand the beautifying benefits, you might just agree.


Glycerine is often referred to as Glycol, or Glycerol.

Vegetable glycerine is an organic compound traditionally made from vegetable fat, it is a thick gelatinous, odourless liquid that completely dissolves in water.

A complex method of extraction known as hydrolysis is used to create glycerine and fatty acids used in skincare.

The raw material is subjected to a temperature of 400 degrees, at a constant pressure of around thirty minutes.

This process, enables water to absorb the glycerol from the fatty acid phase, once this phase is complete, the glycerol is then purified by distillation to create glycerine.

It is important to note that glycerin can be petrol-derived; I only use 100% vegetable glycerine in my formulas.


  • Anti-ageing: Stabilises collagen and accelerates the healing process
  • Hair care: Glycerine is a great inclusion for hair formulas, helping to retain moisture in the hair shaft
  • Conditioning: It is an excellent conditioning ingredient for the hair, giving it a glossy shine
  • A natural exfoliant: It has a keratolytic effect, helping with desquamation, the skins natural exfoliating process that breaks down skin cells, preventing dull, flaky skin
  • Moisturising: Glycerine is an effective moisturising ingredient, helping to soften and lubricate skin
  • Anti-irritant: It is thought to influence the protective function of the skin against irritation
  • Hydrating: Glycerine absorbs its own weight in water over a period of a few days, making it the perfect ingredient for a dry skin.


As with urea, I feel it is important to recap on the many benefits of glycerine.

It is a key molecule in skin physiology, in terms of being a primary humectant and because of its important biosynthetic functions.

Glycerine deeply hydrates the stratum corneum, and studies have shown that it forms a persistent reservoir in the depth of the stratum corneum, thus reducing the evaporation rate of moisture from the skins surface.

Not only is it extremely effective in the treatment of dry skin conditions, new research is indicating that glycerol has a repairing action on the barrier function

So having a real understanding the mechanism of glycerine’s actions, and how it supports a number of conditions associated with dry skin such as, ichthyosis, atopic dermatitis and winter xerosis, is key when treating the skin.


There is a school of thought, that glycerine can have an adverse effect on the skin in humid climates.

It is thought that it pulls moisture from the skins tissues, however I think this maybe an urban myth, because no where can I find evidence to support this theory.

In fact all the research points to glycerine being a great choice as a humectant, helping to keep lipids locked within the stratum corneum our visible layer of skin.

Research has shown that an inclusion of glycerine within a skin care formula, keeps the skin hydrated for as long as two weeks, even after the product has been removed from the skin,

So glycerine stays on your skin working its magic, keeping skin moisturised and hydrated much longer than other humectants.


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