Active Ingredients: Glycerin

Chloe Song Beauty Expert
Active Ingredients: Glycerin

Why you shouldn't overlook Glycerin!

As more people are getting more interested in skincare, it just means that there is more knowledge being shared as to which products or ingredients are rave-worthy and which we should avoid. And sometimes in the skincare world, scientific names tend to either get overlooked or shamed upon. We are all familiar with staying away from sulphates, parabens, denatured alcohol or phenoxyethanol, however, due to this misconception some ingredients are getting the short end of the stick and should actually be appreciated more, rather than avoided. And that one ingredient is glycerin, we call it the sister of hyaluronic acid.

The irony behind misconception is that you probably wouldn’t notice that almost ALL of your skincare products will contain glycerin.

Glycerin is a natural component found and needed for healthy skin and can be known as glycerine and glycerol. Glycerin is hygroscopic or what is also called a humectant, meaning that glycerin draws moisture from the air around us and helps to retain that moisture in the skin.  Glycerin is normally derived from the fermentation of sugar or other plant or animal sources, but can also be synthetically made. But either way, all are safe and effective. Other well known hygroscopic ingredients include propylene glycol, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol and sodium hyaluronate. 

In our skin, glycerin is involved in the activity of aquaporins on our skin’s surface. Aquaporins are proteins that channel the flow of vital hydrating substances (water and glycerol) to the skin’s uppermost layers. Aquaporins play a key role in maintaining the skin’s moisture balance during colder climates and keeping our skin feeling smooth and plump. 

Why is glycerin good for the skin? Glycerin is beneficial because it mimics the skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF), making it suitable for all skin types and ages. Our NMF, like collagen, can deplete over time as we age and exposure to external factors like our environment; pollution, climate and UV rays, to name a few; or using skin irritants ingredients like denatured alcohol. And it is important to replenish the NMF that is lost to ensure our skin is healthy and protected.



Attracts and retains moisture

  • The most central benefit of glycerin is its ability to hydrate the skin by attracting moisture from the air and sealing that moisture in our skin preventing any moisture loss or TEWL (transepidermal water loss).
  • A reason glycerin is an amazing humectant is because of its low molecular weight which allows it to penetrate and transport the moisture into the deeper layers of the skin.
  • Its moisturising abilities make it a key ingredient for treating dry, dehydrated or cracked skin, hence, people with skin conditions like eczema can use them.
  • For those with oily skin, look out, glycerin is actually especially beneficial for oily skin because it can draw moisture into the skin without leaving any oily residue, which is why you can find a lot of gel-based moisturisers.

Protecting the skin

  • Glycerin also helps to shield the skin from environmental aggressors and harsh and/or potent ingredients which strips the skin’s natural oils and can cause irritation or inflammation. Glycerin rich products are recommended by doctors to treat extreme dryness and repair the skin of skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.
  • By preventing the skin from dehydration, glycerin works to strengthen the skin’s moisture and protective barrier. A strengthened skin barrier will result in improved skin’s resilience, elasticity and an overall more youthful appearance.


  • Although primarily a hydrating ingredient, glycerin contains mild antimicrobial properties that can treat skin injuries like burns and inflamed skin conditions, which is great for those prone to redness and irritation.

Works well with others

  • When used together with emollients and oils, it can make the skin, especially dry skin, feel softer and more supple. Glycerin helps other ingredients penetrate better into the skin’s uppermost layers, ensuring that the ingredients are used to their fullest potential and you are getting the most out of your products.
  • This is because glycerin supports the skin by providing a protective barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss and allowing your other products (oils & etc) to nourish and repair the skin.


What to note?

  • Glycerin is considered non-allergenic, non-comedogenic and is suitable for breakout-prone skin.
  • However, we still advise you to conduct a patch test prior as other ingredients can cause allergic reactions.


Products we recommend 

The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors

the ordinary natural moisturising factors ha

Providing a topical supplement of Natural Moisturising Factor elements that keep the outer layer of the skin protected and well-hydrated. NMF are made up of multiple amino acids, fatty acids, triglycerides, urea, ceramides, phospholipids, glycerin, saccharides, sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid and many other compounds that are naturally present in the skin.


CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

cerave hydrating facial cleanser

A cult favourite cleanser containing glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid to provide your skin with 24-hour hydration without any greasy, filmy residue or over-stripping the skin.

Cerave PM Facial Moisturising Lotion

cerave pm facial moisturising lotion

Created with dermatologists, CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizer features essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and niacinamide in an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula that can hydrate and calm the skin while helping to restore the skin’s natural barrier.

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturiser with SPF15

cetaphil daily facial moisturiser spf15

Stay hydrated, stay protected. Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 is a dual action product, providing skin with hydration and moderate UV protection, suitable for all skin types. This lightweight and smooth lotion is great for daily use.


La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5

la roche posay cicaplast baume b5

Rather than using multiple products to target different areas of the skin, you can use this balm pretty much everywhere — your face, elbows, hands, legs and more. It has a combination of glycerin, dimethicone, panthenol and shea butter to help you achieve your smoothest skin yet.

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