What is Glycerin?

Glycerin has several other names you may have heard of such as Glycerol or Glycerine. It is a simple, non-toxic, environmentally safe, colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid with a slightly sweet taste. It is the backbone of all lipids found in plant and animal fats. It is used in cosmetics, foods and pharmaceutical preparations. Glycerin acts as both a humectant (binds and holds water) to increase the water content of skin, and an emollient (smooth the scales of the the skin (rough edges of skin cells) rough flaky skin) to keep is soft and smooth to the touch. very hydrophilic molecule that holds about 3 waters to 1 glycerin by a strong bond called a “hydrogen bond”. Translation, glycerin likes loves water and like to hold on to it. It is an emollient. It is a natural key component all plant and animal fats.

Where does it come from

It was originally discovered in 1779 by a Swedish scientist K.W. Scheele. Glycerin is a natural product of fats in both plans and animals. It even occurs in your skin as a component of the Natural Moisturizing Factor(NMF) (1,2); a group of humectants that keep your skin moist. It can be made by fermenting sugars and hydrolyzing fats (breaking them down under pressure or with alkaline solutions like Lye). Vegetable glycerin is made by breaking away 1 glycerin from three tri-glyceride molecules found in the fats of soybean, coconut and palm oils.

What does Glycerin do

Glycerin serves a dual purpose when it comes to moisturizing and softening.

As a strong humectant Glycerin penetrates the out layer of the skin (stratum corneum) carrying water with it helping to hydrate the skin as it carries water with it acts as a humectant to retain moisture within the skin 2,3

As an emollient helps to hold all that moisture in, by forming a protective layer over the skin. This keeps it feeling soft, smooth, and well-hydrated.(4)

This one-two punch can help take your skin from flaky to fabulous fairly quickly.

In summary: Glycerin is a natural humectant that can also act as an emollient to keep skin health, hydrate dry skin and soften flaky skin and relieve itchy skin.

Benefits of Glycerin for your skin

Moisturizes – Creams with Glycerin were more effective thatn silicone oile or HA in hydrating skin and preventing moisture loss. Applying Glycerin frequently improves skin smoothness and suppleness (elasticity) ref(.(4))

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It keeps out pathogens and more. Maintains healthy skin which by reducing cracked irritated skin can protect against infection and promote would healing. Studies show that applying glycerin-containing products may protect your skin against irritants and microbes, as well as soothe inflamed or wounded skin (56)

Moreover, vegetable glycerin may act as a barrier to safeguard your skin from the elements, including wind and cold (5).


Vegetable glycerin has a long history of safe use. It is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of ingredients that are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).6

That said, we at Aloehydrate recognize each person is uniquely different. Therefore before using any product containing Glycerin, you should test it on a small area of skin. If any reaction occurs immediately wash it off, stop using it and see your doctor.


  1. Clive Roderick Bebington Harding, Anthony Vincent Rawlings; Published 2016. 18 Effects of Natural Moistuzing Factor and Lactic Acid Isomers on Skin Function, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/18-Effects-of-Natural-Moisturizing-Factor-and-Acid-Harding-Rawlings/0413dcb1253080a674d4320b05b9a026b3d42008
  2. Bjorklund, S., Engblom,J, Thuresson, K, Sparr, E. 2013, Glycerol and urea can be used to increase skin permeability in reduced hydration conditions https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0928098713001607
  3. Lodén M1Wessman W. The influence of a cream containing 20% glycerin and its vehicle on skin barrier properties. Int J Cosmet Sci.2001 Apr;23(2):115-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.2001.00060.x, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18498456
  4. Overgaard Olsen L1Jemec GB., The influence of water, glycerin, paraffin oil and ethanol on skin mechanics. Acta Derm Venereol.1993 Dec;73(6):404-6.


12 CFR 182.1320 – Glycerin