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What’s the Purpose of Glycerin in Skin Care?

How this basic skin care ingredient delivers major benefits for your skin

Written by: 100% PURE®
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Beauty class is back in session! And next on our list of deep-dive studies is an ingredient many of us have seen on our product labels but have practically no idea what it is. Since we’re always looking to share knowledge and build more confidence in what we use on our skin, it’s about time we get acquainted with glycerin.

Let’s find out more about what this sleeper ingredient is doing in our beauty products (hint: turns out, it’s one of the best ingredients on the list!). We’ll explore what glycerin is, what it does, and where we can find it for our beauty routines.

What Is Glycerin?

Glycerin seems very mysterious. We see it on a bunch of skin and hair care labels, so what exactly is it? Used in both food and cosmetics, glycerin is naturally colorless and odor-free. This plant-based compound is part of the triglyceride family.

A naturally occurring fat, glycerin can be used as a sweetener in food. But for the purpose of beauty, it is usually added for moisture and preservation. We use vegetable glycerin in our products.

Skin Benefits of Glycerin

Ready to discover a new skin care ingredient to fall in love with? Whether we were aware of it or not, glycerin is one of those ingredients often included in our products. On most beauty product labels we see it near the top and have never given it a second thought.

However, it turns out that glycerin is one of the best products for our skin. Here are 7 reasons to look forward to seeing it in our cosmetic products.

#1: Moisturizing
Probably the main reason we see glycerin in so many skin care products is due to its moisturizing nature. Glycerin has a unique quality to better penetrate the skin and truly encourage moisture on multiple skin levels. This results in better-moisturized skin and a longer-lasting moisturized look and feel.

#2: Softening & Smoothing
Along with the feeling of moisture and hydration, we see the skin look smoother and feel softer. Because glycerin is an emollient, regular use of skin care products including glycerin can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, cracks, and scales in the skin.

#3: Reparative
One of the best qualities glycerin has is its ability to fortify the moisture barrier for the skin. This is one of the reasons glycerin is able to help maintain moisture in the skin for longer.

#4: Healing
Sensitive skin and reactive skin types will appreciate this gentle ingredient. Since glycerin creates a stronger moisture barrier, it helps to heal active issues with dryness and roughness on the skin. And because it is moisturizing and not considered active or irritating, it’s great for all skin types.

#5: Glow
A surprising feature about glycerin is how well-rounded it is as an ingredient. As a gentle but mild exfoliant, it can help to reduce acne and breakouts. It also supports improvements in skin’s complexion.

#6: Humectant
A humectant is an ingredient that seals in moisture and promotes lasting moisture by drawing it in from the environment. Glycerin is a humectant, so including it in products like serums and creams allows us to have extremely long-lasting hydration for our skin.

#7: Preservative
Definitely one of the best qualities about this superstar ingredient is that glycerin is a natural preservative. As an emollient, it mixes well with other ingredients (even in water-based formulas) and results in a creaminess that lasts.

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What’s Glycerin’s Purpose?

We’ll share where to find the best glycerin products for the skin below, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let’s explore some of the ways this ingredient is used in all our beauty products.


  • As an emollient, glycerin can help create a really smooth and creamy formula for products like cleansers, serums, and a variety of creams.

  • Glycerin is also added to skin care for better, deeper hydration. It is great at moisturizing the layers in our skin, so our skin feels hydrated and looks moisturized for longer.

  • And as a humectant, it keeps our skin moisturized by preserving what’s inside and pulling in even more moisture from the environment.



  • With aggressive styling, ingredients like glycerin are necessary to pull moisture back into the hair.

  • And since glycerin is a natural preservative, it makes a great addition to stabilize formulas that include other water-based or hydrating components.

  • Deeply conditioning, glycerin can help soften, smooth, and aid in length retention for hair.



  • Much like the skin on our faces, our bodies need all the moisture they can get. That’s why glycerin is usually one of the primary ingredients in body balms and lotions.

  • The smoothing and healing abilities of glycerin also help to prevent and soothe irritated skin conditions.


Glycerin Best Practices

We’re absolutely obsessed with how inclusive this ingredient is. Everyone – from sensitive skin to oily skin types – can benefit from using this product.

Dry and mature skin types will love the deep and lasting moisture they feel from glycerin-infused products. Oily and acne-prone skin types should see better balance in terms of complexion. And we can’t leave out normal skin types who will adore the softness and smoothness glycerin adds to the skin.

The key is, products with glycerin have to be balanced with other ingredients. Like a whole and nutritious diet, the skin can’t rely on glycerin for everything it needs. Here are some products to get us started:

Cocoa Cream Cleanser
Antioxidant-rich cocoa makes our skin glow while glycerin and coconut oil gently draw dirt and debris out of our pores. This is a super gentle cleanser that leaves skin clean and refreshed without feeling stripped or dry.

Rose Hyaluronic Acid Serum
We fall asleep dreaming in this rose-scented cloud that soothes redness and breakouts thanks to rose hydrosol. It also provides a nourishing drink of moisture to the skin from our highlight ingredient glycerin. Dry to normal skin types, meet your newest obsession.

Coconut Shower Gel
We’re mentally escaping to a tropical paradise where our skin is glowing and hydrated thanks to this glycerin, rose, aloe, and coconut body cleanser. Herbs and honey come together to make a luscious, conditioning mix that’s perfect for everyone, year-round.

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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