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5 Suprising Reasons Glycerine is the Holy Grail of Dewy, Glowing Skin

Glycerin For Skin

Has a 7-step routine betrayed your heart?

That still leaves your skin dry and flaky.

Well, there’s no time for tears; instead, it’s time to take action.

With an understated beauty hero.

And that, my friends, is gorgeous glowy glycerine.

When we think of moisture boosters, we think of sexy humectants like hyaluronic acid.

And rarely does its less glamourous relative glycerine spring to mind.

But we folks at NC are on a mission to bring it into the spotlight.

So let’s take a deep dive and look at what is glycerine.

What is Glycerine?

Glycerine is often referred to as “Glycol” or “Glycerol”.

It’s a humectant and is part of your skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF).

Glycerine has a molecular weight of approximately 92 g/mol; in layperson’s terms, it penetrates deep.

Why it may seem like the dull, poor relation to more glamourous urea or hyaluronic acid, glycerine’s slow and steady manoeuvre comes with lasting benefits.

It draws moisture deep into your skin’s layers, continuously releasing it throughout the day.

For all you dry-skin guys and gals, think tiny moisture magnets that keep your skin visibly hydrated.

All hail glycerine!

The Humectant That Keeps on Giving

The effects of glycerin last well beyond the usage of the product containing it, even in the wash-out period—thought to be two weeks after the end of the application has been completed,

This study that looked at what is glycerine and its effect on the skin (1) found that ten days of treatment on normal skin with 20% glycerine significantly increased the hydration in participants’ skin and improved the skin health of those whose skin was primarily characterised by xerosis and barrier impairment.

In other words, it keeps working on your skin long after you’ve stopped using it.

Glycerines Beautifying Benefits

Anti-Ageing: It stabilises collagen and accelerates healing.
Protective: It is often used in pharmaceuticals to treat dry skin, help with elasticity and repair the barrier function.
Moisturising: Glycerine is an effective moisturising agent helping to soften and lubricate your skin.
Anti-Irritant: It is thought to influence the protective function of your skin against irritation.
Hydrating: Glycerine absorbs its weight in water over a few days, making it the perfect ingredient for dehydrated skin.
Natural Exfoliant: It has a keratolytic effect, helping with desquamation—your skin’s natural exfoliating process, which breaks down skin cells to prevent dull and flaky skin.

As if that’s not enough, it’s also great for your hair, helping to retain moisture in the hair shaft; it’s also an excellent conditioning ingredient giving your hair a glossy sheen.

1. Improves Chronic Dry Skin 

It is important to remember that dry skin may result from mutated skin lacking in AQP-3.

Hence, a product formulated with glycerin is the perfect choice for those suffering from dry skin conditions.

This study (2) found that when applied to skin deficient in AQP-3, only glycerin could help restore the normal hydration levels in the participant’s outer layer of skin.

Increased skin elasticity and improved impaired barrier recovery were also discovered; other humectants, like propylene glycol, did not have the same effect.

Glycerine effectively treats several conditions associated with dry skin, including; psoriasis, ichthyosis, atopic dermatitis, and xerosis.

This is why understanding the mechanism of glycerine’s actions is the key to treating your skin if you have extremely dry skin or its associated conditions.

2. Naturally Exfoliating

Glycerine has been suspected to improve dry, flaky skin by facilitating the digestion of desmosome cells in the epidermis.

Desmosome cells appear as thick patches in the cell membrane between two cells; they contain specialised proteins like keratin found in fingernails and hair, increasing the rigidity of your skin’s tissues.

Glycerine possesses a keratolytic effect, which means it is slightly exfoliating; this reduces the formation of the scales on the surface of your skin, breaking stubborn cells apart, which means you won’t get those big flaky patches of skin, only nice smooth ones.

This is a very convoluted way of saying that glycerin can help exfoliate your skin, allowing your skin cells to shed quickly. Phew!

3. Maintains Water Balance

Glycerine deeply hydrates the stratum corneum, your outermost layer of skin.

Studies have found that it forms a persistent reservoir in the depth of the stratum corneum, thus reducing the evaporation rate of moisture from your skin’s surface.

Our article, “The clear skin difference“, explains water and hydration’s roles on your skin.

4. It Has a Protective Role.

Glycerine helps to rebuild an impaired barrier function, protecting your skin against environmental damage and harsh ingredients.

It is often found in pharmaceutical formulas promoted by dermatologists to repair extreme dryness and dehydration.

5. Promotes Skin Cell Maturation

Glycerine can fight the effects of topical skin conditions such as psoriasis.

Research (3) carried out by doctors Wendy Bollag and Xiangjian Zheng found that when glycerine is applied to the skin, it signals the cells to mature normally.

Psoriasis is a skin condition whereby the skin cells shed before they can adequately mature, resulting in thickened, scaly skin.

The doctors found that glycerine can interrupt this abnormal process, allowing skin cells to develop fully before shedding.

With all these benefits, it’s no wonder you can find vegetable glycerine in our H₂O Hydrating Complex or our moisture bomb formula Quench, where the list of ingredients reads like a drink for your skin.

Do Humid Temperature Have an Adverse Effect?

There is a school of thought that glycerine can harm your skin in humid climates; it is thought to pull moisture from the skin’s tissues. However, we believe this to be an urban myth as we can find no evidence to support this theory.

All the research points to glycerine being an excellent choice as a humectant.

Remember the earlier study that included glycerine in a skincare formula that keeps skin hydrated for as long as two weeks? Even after removing the product, it works its magic on the skin much longer than many other humectants.

What Percentage Should You Use?

The moisturising effects of glycerine depend on the quantity of the absorbed humectant. Therefore, the concentration and composition of your formula are essential.

This study (4) found that glycerine used between 2 and 5 % within a formula significantly improved skin’s hydration when used in an occlusive ‘oil in water cream’ base.

Participants with dry skin on their legs benefitted at 20 to 40% concentration.

For this reason, we supply a foot lotion with 25% glycerin in our clinic, and whilst it does feel tacky, it takes our client’s feet from really dry to extraordinarily conditioned and moisturised in just one night.

How is Glycerine Formed?

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

A complex extraction method known as hydrolysis is used to create glycerine and fatty acids used in skincare; the raw material is subjected to a temperature of around 400° C at constant pressure for approximately thirty minutes.

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

To Conclude. The naked truth

So when asking the question, what is glycerine? There is a lot to know, and it seems we can all benefit from a little glycerine in our life.

The really great thing, it can be used in every single step of your routine.

It has a natural affinity with your skin and forms the backbone of many essential lipids found naturally within your skin, which is why it is found in many personal care products.

The moisturising effects of glycerin can last well beyond the use of the product that contains it, even up to two weeks after it is stopped.

It can help restore an impaired barrier, gently encourage natural exfoliation, help restore hydration, and possibly increase skin elasticity and hydration, even in those deficient in AQP-3.

Put simply; it’s an easy and quick-fire way to get super smooth and moisturised skin.

So we think you’d agree if you are suffering from dry, dehydrated, or mature skin, it could just become the holy grail ingredient you have been looking for.


1. The influence of a cream containing 20% glycerin and its vehicle on skin barrier properties.

Relationship between Aging-Related Skin Dryness and Aquaporins.

2. Glycerol — Just a Moisturizer? Biological and Biophysical Effects.

3. Glycerin may help skin disease, study finds.

4. The 24-hour skin hydration and barrier function effects of a hyaluronic 1%, glycerin 5%, and Centella Asiatica stem cells extract moisturising fluid: an intra-subject, randomised, assessor-blinded study.

102 thoughts on “5 Suprising Reasons Glycerine is the Holy Grail of Dewy, Glowing Skin

  1. Jeanie says:

    Hi. Can glycerin help reduce early stages of skin sagging? I use with rose water and my other creams and started losing a bit of weight. I’m hoping it can firm the skin and reduce the first stages of jewels developing. Thanks

  2. Sophie says:

    I was fooling around with some rose water and commercial lotions on my face. That was a mistake. My face has become very irritated with some puffy red patches on my high cheeks. I read today about a green tea mixture – green tea, witch hazel and an essential oil (forgot which one). I think I can’t use essential oils – too strong for my skin. So, once the tea cools, I am going to mix equals parts of tea and glycerin. Any other ideas? I wouldn’t put lemon or anything acidic on my face but, I do on my legs. I drink lemon juice everyday in my cranberry juice for urinary infections. Works fabulously.

  3. Karen Phipps says:

    I’ve been using glycerin and 100% aloe vera gel for 6 months I mix 50/50 and apply it to my face for a moisturizer. I have extremely dry skin and It works great for that!!

  4. sylia burrows says:

    Hi in the early 1950’s I remember my mother used a sacket containing glycerine. It was clear substance. When applied to skin we gently massaged it until it was absorbed then gently continued to massage until it exfoliated our skin. It left our skin feeling soo soft. How can I experience this again. I would li k e to make my own forumula , can you helps

  5. Natasha says:

    I’ve had some adverse affects with Glycerine. Be very careful with it. The initial stage of use was wonderful, it plumped and hydrated the skin, but then I became too cocky and started using it (mixed with Rosewater) every day, directly after a shower under moisturiser. Within a week I had inflammation, puffininess, and eventually – fine irritated peeling on my entire face. It looked like I had been bitten by a wasp and had an allergic reaction, and my wrinkles took on a whole new crevassey look. I’m going to start again with a new approach, this one being the same mixture, but using only twice per week, or alternatively, add 1 drop of glycerine to my moisturiser.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Natasha

      Thank you for this interesting feedback I would be keen to know how you got on after your experiment. Natasha do you think the rosemary was just to active on the skin used neat? Samantha

  6. Jay says:

    I weirdly started getting ear infections from surfing recently — never got them in the past. Someone told me to clean out my ears with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar (1:1) but that only worked for a couple days and then I got another infection. Then someone told me to put a drop of glycerine in my ears as it would pull all the excess water out. Now I do both and I haven’t t had an ear infection in months.

  7. Kristin says:

    I’m trying to make my own DIY Miscellar water for removal of eye make-up for lash extensions. A lot of recipes call for Glycerine, Rose Water and Witch Hazel. If the Glycerine is a lubricant would it be considered a oil? Oils break down the bonds on the extensions.

  8. Pieter Ijsselstein says:

    Anybody try potato juice? Excellent for skin, especially rich in vitamin C and hyaluronic acid which helps to keep skin tissue moist. Helps with wrinkles and dry skin.

  9. Ann says:


    Glycerine is a nice moisturer and gives Your skin a Healty look
    Unfortunately i am a rosacea patiënt and van not use it. Glycerine feels warm and my skin turns read ommediately ?

    Any other rosacea patiënt on this forum?

  10. Nick says:

    I have a fairly dry face, and still get a bit of acne, i was wondering if i start using vegetable glycerine by itself, will it aid me in both areas? Or is it best to pair the glycerine with something else

  11. Eileen Coombs says:

    I have very dry skin and also very sensitive. After trying many skin cleansers I have found I cannot use water on my face because it becomes very irritated. My dermatologist suggested using glycerine and mineral oil to cleanse my face. What proportions would I use? Is there a better solution?

  12. roel silvano sayson says:

    hello im roel,25 and im suffering from mild eczema/ skin asthma. I have been seeing my dermatologist for quite sometime now and i feel no relief from all of her prescriptions. A friend of mine told me that glycerin can prevent the outbreak of eczema. I hope you guys can help me.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Roel ts not topical the condition it is systemic-therefore you must addrss your diet I am not a nutritionist but start with foods from the deadly nightshade family and gluten, are you lactose intolerant? All questions you need to ask yourself. Savior and Bio will give you the topical relief you need. Samantha

      • Nitin Tabib says:

        I have extremely dry skin, and my feet crack almost all 12 months. Past few months, I’ve been mixing Glycerine with Fortify in the proportion of 1:2, and the results are amazing. I apply it twice a day (morning and night) and my legs don’t look dry anymore. My feet are not ugly. Cracks have reduced but not healed. I have experimented mixing glycerine with Nivea and Santoor, but this worked the best. Hope this helps.

  13. Carol says:

    Glycerin has been used for many years on horses for sore muscles and inflammation. When I have a tight muscle in my back, my masseuse well apply undiluted glycerin on the muscle and then stick saran wrap over it and I sleep with that glycerin wrap overnight. It makes my skin very warm and relieves the muscle pain. Give it a try if you have sore muscles. You do need to put on the plastic wrap to keep it working for several hours and also it eliminates it’s sticking to your clothes.

  14. Elena says:

    I’m trying to make a micro-derm face scrub, these are my ingredient, coconut oil, activated charcoal, micro-derm crystals, and my face wash Cetaphil, would glycerin help to bind all ingredients, they separate?

  15. Julia says:

    Hi Samantha!
    I have extremely oily skin and no matter what I rub into my skin it basically pushes it right out.
    I’ve been trying to use aloe vera gel with oils like red raspberry seed oil or watermelon seed oil. Anything that has a comedogenic rating of 0-1. However i wake wth the greasiest face in the morning. Worse than ever before. Someone mentioned to me to add glycerin to help lock the moisture? Do you agree? How many percent should I add?

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Julia
      Yes to glycerine properly infused into a formula and only if you have dehydration? I would look for an oil free moisturiser, that is natural that won’t strip your skin of oil, which is the key as long term astringent strong products will make you overproduce oil. Equilibrium my oil free formula is gorgeous and filled with lovely humectants also.

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