Skin Science

Glycerin for Skin: Why Glycerin Is Your New Defense Against Dry Skin

by Dan Koday
December 2, 2022

Anyone who's turned over a skincare product recently has probably noticed one common ingredient making a regular appearance: glycerin.

While you may be familiar with the products it's found in, you might be wondering what results you can expect to see when using glycerin for skin that's dry and irritated. Wonder no more! Here's what you need to know about this wondrous ingredient and how it keeps your skin glistening.

So, What Is Glycerin?

Glycerin contains some of the best moisturizing properties out there; you can think of it as a magnet for water. Glycerin belongs to a class of moisturizers known as humectants, which are prized for their ability to attract and retain moisture. When you use glycerin as part of your skincare routine, it'll draw moisture from the environment around it (either from deeper layers of the skin or from the air) and leave your outermost layer of skin feeling plump and balanced.

These humectant properties make glycerin a popular addition to skincare products that aim to give you an extra boost of moisture, from face washes and hair products to shaving creams. Because glycerin is naturally colorless and odor-free, you may not instantly know it's there — but you're sure to feel its effects.

How Does Glycerin Benefit Your Skin?

What this all means is that if your skin is dry, itchy and flaky, glycerin can give your those areas some much-needed moisture, whether you're battling dry winter air or hoping to take advantage of the humid summer climate. The American Academy of Dermatology cites glycerin as one of the most effective ways to relieve dry skin thanks to its ability to smooth and hydrate skin, helping it look (and feel) healthy and supple.

But the benefits don't stop there! Glycerin can also improve the overall look of your skin, soothing any redness or irritation, and — as an added bonus — reducing signs of aging. Thanks to its sponge-like ability to attract moisture, glycerin can help prevent your skin from flaking and peeling, which is a catalyst for the aging process.

How Often Can You Use Products Containing Glycerin for Skin?

One of the most compelling reasons to add glycerin to your skincare routine is that it's super gentle. Unlike some other popular skincare ingredients, it won't irritate your skin if you use it every day. In fact, glycerin's moisturizing qualities can actually reduce the irritation that other products in your skincare routine might cause.

The more regularly you use products containing glycerin, the better results you'll see. To maximize the ingredient's benefits, try applying products to your face or body while your skin is still slightly damp. Just after you've washed your face or showered is a prime opportunity — especially considering the hot water from the shower head or faucet can actually be drying, and an extra dose of moisture could be just the thing your skin needs to maintain balance.

If your regimen doesn't cross your mind until after you've toweled off, opt for a mist or spray to help prime your skin for glycerin-containing creams or serums. The National Institutes of Health also recommends using a humidifier after applying these products so they have an opportunity to absorb moisture from the air.

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Skin Science

Dan Koday is a skincare-obsessed writer, editor, social content expert, and Pomeranian dad based in New York City.

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