Beauty glossary

What Is Glycerin? 

Whether you call it glycerin or glycerol, the only thing you really need to know about this colorless liquid is that it’s the ultimate moisturizing ingredient. Both super hydrating and healing, glycerin was traditionally used to treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Today it’s found in a ton of beauty products, and with good reason.

What Does Glycerin Do? 

A humectant, glycerin draws moisture to the upper layer of skin, preventing dryness and maintaining the skin’s protective barrier. Glycerin is also hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from the air to boost hydration (clever, huh?). Basically, it’s a moisturizer that can actually attract its own weight in moisture – which is why you’ll see it in everything from cleanser to foundation.

But glycerin is no one-trick pony! As well as being incredibly hydrating, it also combats blemishes, creating a more even skin tone. In addition, it balances your skin’s pH level and helps prevent breakouts, dryness, oiliness and other annoying skin drama.

Who Should Use Glycerin

Because Glycerin mimics our skin’s natural moisturizing factors (elements that keep our outer layer of skin hydrated and protected), it’s a seriously one-size-fits-all staple, and works wonders for just about every skin type!

How To Use Glycerin In Your Skincare Routine

Chances are Glycerin has already snuck its way into your skincare regimen – you just don’t know it. Though the powerhouse ingredient can be used alone, it performs best when mixed with other emollients (hydrating lubricating agents that either lock in or attract moisture). If you’re obsessed, like us, you can introduce glycerin-infused products into every step of your skincare routine. It’s amazing in cleansers, as it locks in moisture while preventing skin irritation. Also, look out for it in toners and primers if you can’t shake the flakes, and in moisturizer for out-of-this-world hydration.

Our Fave Glycerin Skincare Products


Source: Nivea

Nivea Nivea Crème, $6: This drugstore savior is a lifesaver for dry, flaky skin thanks to mega-hydrators Lanolin and Glycerin.

Glyercin Source: Glossier

Glossier Priming Moisturizer, $22: This clever formula plumps and primes skin to create a flawless base. Beyond hydration from glycerin and hyaluronic acid, its honey extracts are ultra-soothing.

Glycerin Source: Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, $52: If intense hydration is what you’re after, then look no further. This gel also replenishes nutrients and improves skin texture.

To find more bomb skincare ingredients, visit our Beauty Glossary.