Gone are the days when glycerin was an essential part of women’s beauty routine. With the advent of fancy creams, lotions, and moisturizers, the goodness of glycerin as a beauty essential is almost forgotten. But the humble ingredient, which was used widely in olden days by our mothers and grandmothers, may turn out to be the simplest and the most effective home remedy for dry and lifeless skin. Keep reading this article to find the compilation of glycerin masks for dry skin along with all other wonderful benefits of it admired by worldwide beauty junkies.
What is Glycerin?
Glycerin (glycerine) or glycerol is a colorless (transparent) and odorless substance of syrupy liquid consistency and sweet taste. It is named after the Greek word ‘glykys’, which means ‘sweet’. According to the chemical composition, glycerin is a trihydroxy sugar alcohol (1), which works as a humectant in various skin as well as hair care products. Though the existence of natural glycerine is found in all vegetable as well as animal matters (2), it is commercially derived from petroleum or vegetable oils or animal fats.
Though it was there even before the 18th century, the official discovery of glycerin is cited in the year 1778 and credited to the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. The accidental discovery involved heating a mixture of olive oil and lead monoxide. It was only in the late 1800s when glycerin became economically and industrially popular.
Types of Glycerin
There are, essentially, two types of glycerin – natural and synthetic. Natural glycerin can again be produced from either animal fats or triglyceride-rich vegetable fats (palm oil, soybean oil, or coconut oil) through the method of hydrolysis in which the chemical bonds in those compounds are broken in reaction with water (3). On the other hand, the synthetic variant of glycerin is prepared from petroleum, propylene, or chlorine through chemical processes.
Uses of Glycerin
Glycerin was first used in making dynamite. However, these days, the ingredient has more than 1500 known end uses. It has become an indispensable part of the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. In skincare, glycerin acts as an elixir that hydrates, moisturizes, and protects dry and damaged skin. Hence, you may find it in several beauty products including cleansers, toners, moisturizers, lotions, masks, sunscreens, soaps, deodorants, and even makeup items. Glycerin is widely added to candles, toothpaste, and many other household products too. You may also find the compound in pharmaceutical drugs like anesthetics, suppositories, cardiovascular medications, cough remedies, etc. Also, glycerin is used as a preservative, sweetening agent, thickening substance, and hyperosmotic laxative.
How Does Glycerin Work on Skin?
Being a humectant, glycerin has outstanding moisturizing properties. In other words, it is a certain kind of moisturizing agent that hydrates the outermost layer of the skin by pulling water into it from the deeper layers of your skin. It even draws moisture from the air into the skin if the humidity is high. This makes glycerin a great choice for skincare products. A 2016 study compared glycerin with AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids (lactic acid and glycolic acid), hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol and butylene glycol, sorbitol, urea, etc. and identified it as ‘the most effective humectant’. (4)
When used in skincare products, glycerin is usually accompanied by occlusives, which help trap the moisture drawn into the skin by it.
How Does Glycerin Benefit the Skin?
Pure and natural glycerin works wonder for all types of skin. In a 2014 Cosmetic Ingredient Review, glycerin was recognized as the third most frequently used ingredient in cosmetics after water and fragrance (5). Here are all the ways the substance can benefit your skin:
1. Exfoliates the Skin
Glycerin sloughs dead cells off the surface of the skin gently to reveal the layer of healthy, soft, and fresh skin underneath. Being so gentle, it can even be used on oily, acne-prone, and sensitive skin without any irritation.
2. Moisturizes Deeply
The humectant properties of glycerin not only help in providing intense moisturization to the skin by hydrating its outer layer (stratum corneum) but also stop the evaporation of water from it by improving its natural barrier functions (6). Creams with glycerin also increase the moisture-holding capacity of the skin significantly while slowing down moisture loss (7). Besides, a bath of glycerin and warm water is also effective in maintaining skin moisture levels as well as preventing several skin disorders (8).
3. Prevents Premature Aging
As glycerin traps moisture in the external layer of the skin and plumps it up, the signs of premature aging are reduced. It smoothes out wrinkles and fine lines effectively to give us a healthy and youthful appearance. The ingredient may also make the skin look, feel, and function in a better way by stimulating the maturity of cells and decelerating aging. (9)
4. Keeps Acne at Bay
While most of the over-the-counter acne treatments are too harsh for the skin, glycerin may help you deal with it in a mild yet effective way. It is a non-comedogenic compound with zero oil content, which does not clog skin pores and hence, does not lead to breakouts. Furthermore, it has considerable anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent the existing acne from getting worse (10).
5. Treats Skin Conditions
Certain skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, etc. can be treated successfully with glycerin (11). It helps the cells mature fully and stops the abnormal shedding of the skin. The antimicrobial properties of glycerin also help in improving the health of the skin through efficient repairing and regeneration.
6. Heals Cracked Lips
When the lips get chapped or cracked during winter, rely on glycerin to restore their normal health and beauty. It not only rehydrates the delicate skin of the lips but also heals the wounds fast. It even protects the lips from further damage caused by the harsh winter air.
5 Homemade Glycerin Masks for Dry Skin
Glycerin, when mixed with other skin-friendly natural ingredients, can make excellent masks for your dry and parched skin. Following are 5 simple glycerin face masks that can give you soft, supple and lustrous skin at home:
1. Glycerin and Rosewater Mask
To make this mask, take 2 teaspoons of glycerin and 4 teaspoons of rose water. Mix them well and apply to your skin in a thin, uniform layer. You can also refrigerate the mask before using to get a cool and fresh feeling.
2. Glycerin and Honey Mask
Take glycerin and honey in equal proportions and mix them well. Apply it all over your face and wash it after drying. This wonder mixture will make your skin glow and scintillate it with a natural shine.
3. Glycerin and Aloe Vera Mask
Take 2-3 fresh aloe vera leaves and add 2teaspoons of glycerin to it. Apply the mixture to your face and leave it on for at least 20-25 minutes. After washing the mask off, you will find a youthful and flawless skin.
4. Glycerin and Egg Mask
For making this mask, separate the egg white from the yolk and stir it well. Add a few drops of honey and 2 teaspoons of glycerin to it and mix nicely. Apply the mask to your face and let it dry. Wash it off with cold water and reveal healthy skin.
5. Glycerin and Banana Mask
Take half a banana and mash it up in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of glycerin to it and blend well. Apply the mask all over your face and wait for at least 25 minutes before rinsing. You will find a spotless glow on your face for sure.
Tips to Use Homemade Glycerin Face Masks
While using glycerin face masks at home, make sure that you follow these preventive measures religiously to make the most of your regime:
- Never use glycerin directly on your skin. It is best used by diluting with plain water or rose water.
- Don’t overuse it or keep it applied for a longer duration. It will make your skin greasy and draw a lot of dust.
- While going out, apply sunscreen to your face after applying glycerin as it may cause sun sensitivity in some people.
- It is not suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Side Effects of Glycerin on Skin
According to the Food and Drug Administration, glycerin is a safe choice for our skin (12). Vegetable glycerin also has no harmful impact even on the environment (13). However, if you experience allergic reactions, rashes, itching, swelling, hives, blisters, etc. after applying glycerin, stop using it immediately and consult a doctor.
Glycerin is a colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid with a sweet taste and a wide range of uses. It is a staple in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. There are two types of glycerin – natural and synthetic. Natural glycerin is prepared from animal fats or vegetable fats while synthetic glycerin is derived from petroleum, propylene, or chlorine. Being a great humectant, glycerin works wonder for our skin. It moisturizes the skin deeply, exfoliates it thoroughly, prevents premature aging, keeps acne at bay, heals skin conditions, and even treats cracked lips. You can combine it with other skin-friendly ingredients to prepare effective homemade face masks for dry skin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can We Use Glycerin on Oily Skin?
Glycerin is a non-oily and non-comedogenic humectant that moisturizes oily and acne-prone skin without causing greasiness.
How Long Should I Leave It on the Skin?
While using glycerin on your skin, do not leave it on for more than 25 to 30 minutes. Otherwise, it will draw lots of dust and dirt.
Is Glycerin Soap Good for Skin?
Yes, glycerin soaps are very good for all types of skin as they hydrate it intensely and locks in the natural moisture with low pH and no harmful chemical compounds.
How to Treat Discolored Lips with Glycerin?
Add a few drops of lemon juice to a teaspoon of glycerin and massage your dark, discolored lips with it. Practicing it every night will give you excellent results within weeks.
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- “Effects of Bathing in Warm Water with Added Glycerin on Slain Conditions and Prevention of Skin Disorders in Patients with Severe Motor and Intellectual Disabilities“, JSTAGE.jst.go.jp
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