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Glycerin: uses and benefits for the skin

The glycerin is an organic compound, an alcohol in liquid state comprising three carbon atoms. From a chemical point of view it is an ester of fatty acids . Its chemical formula is C3H5 (OH) 3 and it is obtained from plants. It is thick, viscous, colorless, water soluble and has a sweet taste. You should know that in 1811 the French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul used the word to name a compound that another chemist, Claude Joseph Geoffroy, had discovered in 1741.

Why is glycerin important?

This substance can be found in all fats and oils, so it is widely distributed in nature. The coconut oil and palm contain it in high concentrations and is part of cell membranes of plants and animals. It is also known as glycerol and its importance lies in its many uses and low toxicity . You can find this compound in the cosmetic field, in medicines, lubricants, food, paints and it is used in many industrial processes.

Chemical formula and model of glycerol

Glycerol Properties

Glycerol has a great capacity to moisturize and is soluble in water and alcohol, although not in oil. One of its main benefits is the hygroscopic property.


Due to its chemical composition, this substance has the ability to penetrate the superficial layers of the skin, the so-called stratum corneum. Once located there, it helps to maintain humidity.


Glycerol is able to attract and retain water from the surrounding air . This property is so important that it is used as a reference value to evaluate the wetting ability of other substances.


The emollient property is what allows glycerol to soften inflammation or hardening of tissues and mucous membranes. It also has a calming effect and reduces the sensation of roughness caused by dryness, providing softness. Due to these qualities, it stimulates the regeneration processes and provides elasticity to the tissues. It also favors the absorption of other substances and the dispersion of emulsions.


This substance has antiseptic properties and its topical use prevents infections in skin wounds.

Uses and applications

The properties of this organic compound allow it to be used in a wide variety of processes and it has many applications.


It is part of the composition of a wide variety of products , such as gels, creams, serums, make-up removal lotions and moisturizing products. In natural cosmetics you can use it without inconvenience because both the processes to obtain it and its composition are adequate.


Glycerin- based soaps in concentrations of 8 to 15% are used to prevent dry skin. Due to their soothing properties, they are appropriate for cases of acne or eczema and also helps to hydrate, thus preventing premature aging . It also effectively removes impurities and helps to close enlarged pores.


Food manufacturers often use glycerol as a solvent, to add flavors, aromas, or colors to their composition. It is also an ingredient in chewing gum, fondants , ice cream, pastillages, mousses , chocolates, glazes and chocolate covers, as it prevents them from hardening, becoming covered with moisture or sugar crystallizing . It also maintains elasticity and prevents them from drying out.

We also tell you that it is used in cocktails and in the manufacture of liqueurs and soft drinks to thicken and replace sugar since it is 40% less sweet. It is an ingredient accepted by those who choose vegan and organic food options since it can be used to make organic products.

When added to processed foods it is identified as E422. In these cases it is used as a thickener and stabilizer, since it inhibits enzymatic reactions in products such as feed, breakfast cereals, dairy products, and frozen meals. It is used in the pork meat industry as it softens and hydrates the skins of sausages. Its incorporation into the dough of baked products contributes to making them soft.

Saddlery and textiles

Mixed with barium chloride it is used to preserve the skins. In the tanning phase, it is used in emulsion together with the wax, since thanks to its properties it provides softness, durability and elasticity to the leather. For the same reason it is also used in the manufacture of synthetic fabrics. At home it is useful for cleaning, polishing and softening leather shoes and accessories.

Tobacco companies

In the manufacture of products derived from the tobacco plant, it is used to give flexibility to the leaves and avoid drying out from the stings. In electronic cigarettes it is used to create vapor and give it a sweet taste.

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Industrial uses

This substance is a component of many types of paints and varnishes, to which it provides a suitable texture and a better finish. In electroinsulating varnishes it is the most important component, with a high percentage of up to 98%. It can be used as antifreeze, and forming bonds with water molecules and freezing point of – 38 ° C . This use has decreased as it has been replaced by ethylene glycol, another alcohol that has a lower cost.

In certain machinery it can be used as a lubricant due to its high viscosity index, such as those used for cutting or packaging food , which could be contaminated with the use of oils derived from petroleum. It is also used in the manufacture of resins, inks, and explosives such as nitroglycerin.

Pharmaceutical uses

Glycerol is one of a number of products such as anesthetics, ear medications, antiseptics, oral health products such as mouthwashes and toothpastes, laxatives, and suppositories. It is a good excipient for ointments and creams , to which it provides stability and is used to cover the tablets. It is also a component of some medications used in the area of ​​ophthalmology.

Domestic uses

Glycerol can be used to make homemade soaps and moisturizers. It is also useful as a stain remover , as it hydrates, softens and dissolves many kinds of dirt, even when it comes to synthetic fabrics and stains that are very old.

Glycerin benefits

The unique properties of this substance make its positive effects very wide , so it is used for very different purposes.

Hydrating creams

Both in the case of commercial and home-made creams, glycerin creams ensure soft, smooth, elastic and well-hydrated skin. Not only is it capable of attracting water from the atmosphere but it also prevents its evaporation thereby maintaining the water balance of the skin.

You can add a few drops to the lotion that you use daily with what you also achieve an anti- aging effect , keeping the skin smooth and preventing wrinkles, dryness and sagging. The penetration of any product or ingredient that you use is facilitated by its hygroscopic capacity and its emollient properties.

Maintain skin functions

In addition to preserving the water balance , glycerol maintains the barrier effect of this organ. It is beneficial for all skin types as it softens and hydrates dry skin, calms sensitive skin and prevents acne and seborrhea in those with a greasy tendency. By cleaning and soothing the stratum corneum, it reduces the stimulation received by the sebaceous glands.

Therapeutic effects

In case of insect bites, glycerol helps soothe and reduce inflammation in the affected area. For cases of acne, irritations, abrasions, dermatitis and eczema, it has a moisturizing, antiseptic, soothing and softening effect . It also keeps the skin very clean, relieves itching and helps eliminate roughness from comedones and pimples.

In the hair

You can use it as an original component of shampoos and conditioners or add a few drops at the time of use. It has a great moisturizing effect on both the hair and the scalp , where it strengthens the hair follicles. It also reduces the possibility of split ends and frizzy hair.

Health risks

Glycerol is a substance that has been used for a long time, so its effects are well known and there is a high degree of assurance that its use does not have harmful effects . It is classified as a GRAS substance by the FDA. The acronym is derived from a phrase in English that translates to “generally recognized as safe . ” It means that it is a substance that can be added without any inconvenience to food, so its use is approved without any maximum limit.

This brings you to another concept that is used in the specialized literature on food safety and good manufacturing practices, which is quantum satis or QS. When a substance is described with that term it means that it can be used in the amount deemed necessary without restrictions.

From what has been described, you can conclude that glycerin is a very useful substance with very wide uses. This is possible not only thanks to its exceptional properties but to the proven fact that it can be used without limit of quantity to make products intended for human consumption such as cosmetics and food.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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