It’s a popular ingredient in many natural hair and skincare products, but what do you REALLY know about glycerin? Other than the fact that there's a song by British alternative 90s rock band Bush about the stuff. Don't let the days go by! Let's learn more about glycerin together!
1. Glycerin is also called glycerol or glycerine, and it’s a colorless, scentless, thick liquid used in all kinds of ways, from the food industry to beauty and hair products, to antifreeze and e-cigarette liquids. Glycerol is also used to produce nitroglycerin, which everyone who’s seen an action movie knows is an ingredient in dynamite.
2. Glycerin can come from natural or synthetic sources. Some sources of synthetic glycerin have come under fire for being dangerous for your health, and it’s considered by many to not be preferred for cosmetic purposes. Natural sources of glycerin include animal fats and plant oils like shea butter or coconut oil.
3. Glycerin is heavy in humectants, which are made to pull moisture into the hair and retain it. However, it also works the other way. Erica Douglas, AKA cosmetic chemist Sister Scientist explained the dangers to me. “If the environment around the hair is drier than the hair, it is possible for humectants to push moisture from the hair to the dry air to help balance the moisture in the atmosphere. So be aware of your surrounding climate because glycerin can work against you when the air is not humid enough by releasing moisture back into air!
4. It’s great to use glycerin based products in moderately moist air. Not too humid, not too dry. “Glycerin works best on natural hair when it is pulling moisture from the air to keep our tresses moisturized throughout the day,” says Douglas. When used in the right climactic conditions, glycerin can really help to define your curl pattern! When used in the wrong conditions, it can lead to hair damage. - Using the pure product can leave your hair and skin feeling sticky. Luckily, glycerin mixes easily with other water soluble ingredients, so many naturalistas like to use it in DIY hair recipes. A leave-in spritz made with glycerin, water and essential oils can make curls and kinks very happy in the right climate. There’s a reason your grandma used rosewater and glycerin! It’s a great combo!