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What is Glycerin?
Glycerol or glycerin is a colorless liquid found in all natural fats and a humectant that attracts moisture to the upper layer of the skin, prevents dryness and maintains the skin's barrier against pollutants. It is a common component of natural soaps due to its moisturizing and cleansing properties.
As the skin ages, it gets dry easily due to its inability to retain water. Glycerin can make the skin smooth and plump by filling in the tiny cracks in the dry skin. It can also be used to help wounds heal faster.
Benefits of Glycerin:
As a humectant, glycerin attracts water from the air and binds it to the skin using the OH (hydroxyl) group of molecules. Glycerin helps maintain the skin's water balance on an intercellular level. A study conducted by Dr Yohini Appa et al on 394 patients with severely dry skin tested 16 moisturizers against two high-glycerin creams over a five-year period. The results showed that glycerin was the most effective moisture-retaining compound and increased the thickness of the coenocytes (a cell in some algae and fungi with multiple nuclei). In 2008, a placebo-controlled, double-blind study at the Friedrich Schiller University Department of Dermatology also found glycerin to be a potent moisturizer. Researchers investigated the effects of glycerin on participants with atopic dermatitis who were treated twice daily for a month. Those receiving glycerin showed significant improvement in the hydration of the outer layer of skin and its normal protective barrier function was restored.
The December 2003 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology highlighted that glycerin signals the cells to mature normally. This prevents psoriasis – an affliction in which the skin cells shed before they mature resulting in thickened and scaly skin. The application of glycerin can interrupt this abnormal process to allow the cells to reach full maturation before shedding.
Safety & Toxicity:
An extremely safe ingredient, glycerin has no known toxicity in general use and has been found to be non-irritating and suitable for sensitive skin.
If using glycerin directly on the face, dilute it with water as pure (100%) glycerin will draw water from deep layers of the skin (the nearest source possible) instead of the environment and cause skin to be dehydrated.