Glycerin: A Moisturising Superhero

Glycerin is a simple active ingredient that works wonders on our skin. It has the amazing ability to hydrate skin of all types.

Glycerin Has Become A Star Ingredient In The Cosmetics Industry

It's pretty much everywhere - most facial beauty treatments contain between 3 and 5% of glycerin in their formulae. It's also found in body creams and some shower gels or soaps.

So what's the big deal? Firstly, glycerin is a stable active ingredient. Secondly, glycerin is present in our bodies, making it naturally suited to all skin types. Beauty treatments contain a plant-based glycerin, extracted from coconuts, soy bean and so forth.
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Glycerin's Rise To Fame

The benefit of this molecular powerhouse is easy to explain: the moment glycerin is applied to skin it immediately penetrates all the epidermal layers. Meaning it can deeply rehydrate our skin.

So how does it differ from hyaluronic acid? Glycerin is, if you like, a low-tech predecessor of hyaluronic acid.

Glycerin was popular during the 90's, but its texture made treatments feel sticky. As a result, laboratories decided it was time to overcome this gooey problem. The result is that nowadays treatments combine glycerin with polymers to provide pleasurable textures that retain their hydrating properties.

And just as well - hydrated skin = flawless skin!
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Why Did Glycerin Go Out Of Fashion?

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First discovered during the 19th Century, glycerin was a by-product of saponification, a soap-making process that used fatty ingredients. To begin with only animal fats were used to obtain glycerin. Which in turn was used to make candles. The cosmetics industry quickly latched on, but from the turn of this century it was replaced by hyaluronic acid - an active ingredient that proved easier to formulate. The reason? Glycerin is a bit gooey and greasy - not at all like the easily absorbed textures we want from our creams.
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Glycerin's Rise To Power

Nowadays, most anti-ageing facial skincare treatments contain glycerin (usually between 3 and 5%). It's also found in some body creams, shower gels and soaps. So why is it all the rage? Because glycerin is naturally present in the body and therefore suited to all skin types. Because modern glycerin/polymer formulae create gorgeous textures that don't leave our skin feeling sticky. And because it stabilises formulae, meaning products require fewer preservatives to extend their shelf life.
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How Does Glycerin Work On Skin?

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Firstly, it hydrates skin. Glycerin is emollient, humectant and occlusive. Put simply, it quickly penetrates the epidermis where it absorbs several times its weight in water and imitates our skin's natural, hydrating process - something that lessens with age. It traps water in the epidermis by forming an occlusive barrier, meaning our skin doesn't dry out.

Secondly, it's an anti-ageing powerhouse. Glycerin has surfactant properties that smooth skin whilst keeping it well-hydrated. Its moisturising action keeps skin supple and comfortable for longer. So you can kiss goodbye to tight skin!

Thirdly, it repairs skin. Glycerin nurses skin back to health by helping the epidermis to synthesise lipids. It improves skin tone and leaves it feeling wonderfully soft.

Finally, it protects us. Glycerin protects skin from the elements - cold, wind, pollution, UVA rays and so forth. It forms an invisible barrier on skin that prevents these culprits from penetrating the epidermis. It stimulates skin's natural defences, so that aggressive external factors are kept well at bay.

Article supplied & written by Marie Claire, part of Hearst Communications, Inc.
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