Ingredient spotlight: Glycerin

Does this hydrator live up to the hype? Here’s what we know.

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Curology Team
Nov 09, 2020 · 4 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Ah, glycerin. That sugary sweet ingredient that’s fun to eat and found in loads of cosmetics. It’s an ultra-popular hydrator that’s found in loads of skincare products. But why do we love this humectant so much? We were curious, so we dug into some of the science of this moisturizing ingredient.

What is glycerin?

If you (like us) are nerds when it comes to the science of skincare, here’s the nitty gritty on the chemistry of glycerin. Glycerin (a.k.a. glycerol or glycerine) is a skin-friendly compound that’s sweet and fatty. When molecules of glycerin get together, they form a chemical chain called an ester.¹ Glycerin can attract water molecules and helps with essential functions like metabolism.² It can be derived from synthetic or natural sources like soybeans.³ Often used for moisturizing in skincare, glycerin has humectant properties. That means it draws moisture into the surface of your skin. And glycerin’s got mass appeal — it’s one of the most popular ingredients in cosmetics, so you’ll find it in loads of skincare products and makeup.

Is glycerin good for your skin?

Short answer: glycerin + skin = awesomeness. Unless you have a rare allergy to it, you should feel free to reap the skin benefits of glycerin! Since it’s a moisturizing ingredient, it can help bring out a radiant glow. That’s because it plays a role in skin hydration.⁴ It can help reinforce your skin’s natural protective barrier, helping to keep your skin safe, and help repair certain kinds of skin damage.

Dry skin? Then glycerin’s got your back…and face. A moisturizer with glycerin can help with dryness, redness, and irritation — just make sure you practice sun protection, too. Of course, the rest of your product’s formula matters, too. Unfortunately, many skincare products contain potentially pore-clogging or irritating ingredients. Don’t forget to review your product’s ingredients before you apply! You can also lurk some of our past blogs and guides for good product recommendations, like these:

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Curology 💜’s glycerin

We’re big fans of this sweet skincare ingredient (if you couldn’t tell already). In fact, glycerin is a key ingredient in four of Curology’s products:

  • The moisturizer. Our original moisturizer has a lightweight, gel-cream texture that hydrates skin without weighing you down.

  • The rich moisturizer. Our newest moisturizer has a thick, creamy texture that locks moisture in and keeps it there.

  • The cleanser. Formulated with a special combination of plant sugars, our cleanser treats your skin to a gentler clean while soothing and hydrating.

  • The acne body wash. Tough on acne, yet gentle enough to use every day, our body wash cleans deep into pores, helping keep your skin clear and happy.

Guess what? You can try these products for free when you start your Curology free trial. Build your own skincare subscription, featuring our customized cream. Your custom cream has a formula with up to 3 active ingredients, prescribed to you by one of our in-house medical providers. Try the complete set (your choice of moisturizer + the cleanser), along with any of our other products, at no extra cost. When your month is up, you can cancel or switch to the plan that works for you. So why not? Start your free trial and see what custom skincare is all about.

• • •

P.S.

We did our research so you don’t have to.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Glycerol. National Library of Medicine. (2020, n.d.).

  2. “It can be found in all natural fats and oils as fatty esters and is an important intermediate in the metabolism of living organisms” From Glycerol. Ralf Chrisoph, et. al. Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Wiley Library Online. (2006, Aprill 15).

  3. “The naturally occurring humectant (a substance that preserves moisture) is found in animals, plants, and humans. However, when it comes to sourcing to skincare products, the odorless compound is extracted from soybeans, cane, or corn syrup sugar, resulting in a clear, gel-like, texture.” From Glycerin In Skincare Products Is So Common — Here’s The Reason Why. Blake Newby. The Zoe Report. (2020, August 20).

  4. J.W. Flurh, et. al. Glycerol and the skin: holistic approach to its origin and functions. The British Journal of Dermatology. (July 2008).

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