Glycerin is a natural component of healthy skin. It’s also known as glycerine and glycerol, the latter being the term most often seen in studies about this ingredient. Glycerol is a humectant which helps to retain moisture in creams and cosmetics. Whether derived from vegetable or animal sources, or made synthetically, glycerin is hygroscopic. It plays an important role in improving skin texture and hydration. Binding with water, it not only keeps the moisture in products, but improves skin’s natural moisture barrier.
Research has shown that glycerin mimics what’s known as skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which is why it’s compatible with all skin types, of all ages. Replenishing skin’s NMF is important because it becomes depleted as we age, are subject to environmental exposure, and use irritating ingredients like denatured alcohol.
Glycerin can be applied directly as a moisturizer. It especially effective when combined with other products such as water-based cleaners and creams. Some question the safety of glycerin in cosmetics. Whether it is useful or harmful is probably dependent on the concentration used. If it is too high (≥ 30%), it will deprive the skin of moisture; however, if properly dosed (≤ 10%), it will keep the moisture in the skin supplied with the cream.