Vegetable glycerin is full of uses for the skin and one of my favorite ingredients especially during the winter. It’s inexpensive, works quickly and even good for sensitive or acne prone skin. Spending over a decade as an Aesthetician I have worked with a lot of different products. But over the years and seeing people overwork their skin I came to the conclusion that simple is best when it comes to skin care. The serums, cleansers and lotions that always made the most noticeable difference in my client’s skin usually had glycerin as a common ingredient.
What is Vegetable Glycerin?
Vegetable glycerin is a clear liquid that is found in plants and used as a natural preservative in skin care products or as a sweetener in food. It is also commonly used for hydrating the skin care or hair products. Some of the common plants glycerin is harvested from are soy, coconut or palm. It’s important to buy a vegetable glycerin that is organic and or non-GMO to avoid pesticides that might have been sprayed on these plants. You also want to avoid synthetic glycerin made from propylene which can irritate the skin. For some of my favorites click here.
Vegetable Glycerin Benefits
One of the immediate benefits that you will see when using glycerin on your skin is that it is extremely hydrating. This is because it falls under the category of being a humectant. A humectant is a substance that attracts water from either the air or the dermis. It can help to improve the appearance of the skin by retaining moisture in the epidermis. When the skin cells in our epidermis are hydrated well they plump up and appear firmer. Some other notable humectants are honey, aloe and hyaluronic acid.
Glycerin can calm redness and irritation so it is definitely a good choice for sensitive skin. It works to maintain a protective layer on the skin that prevents damage from things like pollution and harsh weather. Conditions such as eczema or psoriasis can greatly benefit from glycerin.
Glycerin has also been shown to promote wound healing. The Red Cross lists glycerin as an FDA-approved treatment for wounds and burns because of it’s antimicrobial properties. This is at an 85% solution.
How to Use Vegetable Glycerin for the Skin
There is always a bottle of straight vegetable glycerin sitting on my vanity. You can use it for both the face and body. Simply squeeze a dime size amount of glycerin into your hand and mix with your body lotion before applying. If you’ve taken a shower try to not fully dry off because the glycerin will help to lock water into your skin.
For the face just mix a couple drops with an oil or moisturize after cleansing. I like to use jojoba oil best bc it closely mirrors skin’s natural sebum and doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. If you are applying a sunscreen then do that step last. A rose water glycerin spray like this one is also a favorite. I often use it as a setting spray for makeup too.