Glycerin - does it nourish the skin or does it dry it out?

Glycerin is one of the ingredients that you encounter most often in cosmetics. You can find it in most personal care products, from soap to moisturizer. But why is glycerin so popular? And what about the criticism that it would dry out the skin?

Mythos Glycerin trocknet die Haut aus  | Five Skincare

Myth «glycerin dries out the skin» – what's the truth?

For years, glycerin has had a reputation for drying out the skin. Is that even true? Yes and no. As with so many ingredients, the right concentration and combination is also important here.
So that you can understand this, let me briefly explain the function of glycerin: Glycerin attracts water like a magnet. This effect is desirable because it makes this ingredient the best moisturizer of all.
Where did the rumor come from that glycerin is said to have a drying effect? As I said, glycerin loves water. However, the glycerin doesn't really care where the water comes from, as long as it is easily available. It can come from three sources:
  1. Water from the ambient air (at high humidity)
  2. Water from other ingredients in the product
  3. Water stored in the skin

Perhaps you already know from which source the glycerin should not be used? Exactly, from source 3: water from your skin! As soon as glycerin does not get enough water from other sources, it draws water up from the deeper layers of the skin to the skin's surface. The drying effect is created. Two factors prevent this from happening: the right formulation and the right concentration.

Glycerin should be accompanied by aqueous ingredients

The glycerin may not care where it gets its water from, but of course your skin doesn't. So it's important that glycerin is always accompanied by other moisturizing ingredients. Then it doesn't bind water from your skin, but uses the water from the product. In this combination, glycerin moisturizes your skin deeply and for a long time.
By the way, high humidity is great in connection with glycerin, i.e. vacation in a warm, humid climate or a good humidifier at home. In the winter at home, on the other hand, you should be extra picky about a good moisturizing care!
Do you have to be afraid that your product with glycerin will dry out your skin? no Today, cosmetic products are formulated with this knowledge. There is no reason to panic, because glycerin is dosed and combined in high-quality moisturizing creams and serums in such a way that it shows itself from its best side.
☝️ Tip: Recognize water-based substances on the INCI list: At least one water-based ingredient should be present before glycerin. Best in first or second place. For example Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice or …Flower Water.

How do I know if there is too much glycerin in my cream?

The more glycerin the product contains, the higher the water requirement. If the concentration is too high, at some point it can no longer be compensated for in the recipe. Therefore, the dosage of the glycerin also plays an important role.
The drying effect occurs when a product consists of more than 10% glycerin.If you have already researched a bit online, you may have noticed that some sources only speak of a drying effect from 30% What is the reason for that? Well, the effect doesn't suddenly flip.
Concentrations of up to 10% are harmless in skin care. Above that, the effect gradually turns into the opposite until it becomes really critical from 30%. In skin care products, the glycerin content is usually 3-5%, which is well within the “safe” range.
☝️ Tip: Glycerin should not be in first or second position on the INCI list, because the ingredients are listed in descending order of the amount used. If glycerin is after the third digit, it is more likely that the concentration used is 10% or lower.
Glycerin für die Haut  | Five Skincare

What is glycerin made of?

In contrast to coconut oil or shea butter, the name is not exactly meaningful. Do you perhaps spontaneously think of “nitroglycerin”? Sounds explosive, but not necessarily natural... And for conventional cosmetics, glycerin is indeed often synthesized from petroleum.
But glycerin can also be obtained from natural sources. It is formed when fats, both synthetic and natural, are broken down. And with the latter, in addition to animal sources, there is also extraction from vegetable oils. And that's usually where the glycerin used in natural cosmetics comes from.

Organic glycerin from coconut oil

Ideally, your skin care here contains organic glycerin from plants that are cultivated in an environmentally friendly manner, without pesticides. Unfortunately, the most popular source of vegetable glycerin is palm oil. However, the list of ingredients (INCI) does not give you any information about this.
Also in our FIVE facial serum, natural glycerine pampers your skin with extra moisture. It is obtained from coconut oil by saponification and - like all our products - is 100% vegan. So that you don't unnecessarily burden your skin with pesticide residues, our serum only contains organic glycerine from organically grown coconut plants.

For which skin types is glycerin suitable?

Glycerin is a natural component of the body. Fats are constantly being processed during metabolism, with glycerol being produced as a by-product. This is then transported into the skin, where it supports the barrier function. Because it is natural and already present, glycerin is very well tolerated. It is allergen-free and is also suitable for sensitive skin.
So there is no skin type that should keep away from glycerine. However, dehydrated skin has the greatest benefit. Glycerine helps to store water in the deeper layers of the skin and thus creates an additional moisture depot.
Although dry skin can be genetic, normal skin also tends to dry out more as it matures. A good moisturizer becomes more and more important over time!

Conclusion: glycerin provides the skin with moisture

In the right dosage, glycerine provides your skin with plenty of moisture. And that's a must. The skin needs at least 20% water to make you look really fresh and radiant.
And the beauty of glycerine: It moisturizes the skin down to the deeper layers. The improves elasticity and tightens.In addition, this deeper water deposit cannot be washed away so easily when cleaning the face
Since glycerin binds water from the environment, two factors are crucial in the formulation of cosmetic products:

  1. The product must be rich in moisture.
  2. It may only contain small amounts of glycerin.
Product tip: The moisturizing serum from FIVE consists of 4% glycerin and, thanks to organic rose petal hydrolate, brings plenty of moisture.

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«No cream should have more ingredients than you can count on one hand.»

Anna Pfeiffer