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* A naturally occurring ingredient (also synthetically made) that balances the water levels in skin to facilitate moisture
* Also known as Glycerine or Glycerol
* Read more about Glycerin in TIA's article, Glycerin: Does It Really Moisturize the Skin?
Glycerin is used as a lubricant and humectant in a variety of personal care products, and as a cosmetic bonding agent for makeup. Simply stated, glycerin attracts water to skin and helps skin to feel smoother and softer. However, studies have found that it not only attracts water to the skin, but also helps skin cells mature properly. According to a study done by The Medical College of Georgia, Glycerin works as a signal to help direct skin cells through their four normal stages of maturity. In the endless cycle of skin-cell production, the youngest cells move up from the deepest layer and switch from replicating as their main function to eventually becoming mature surface cells that spit out lipids to help form the skin's protective barrier.
It is thought that natural glycerin serves as a substrate to allow the skin to mature properly. When you don't have enough glycerol in the skin, cells don't mature properly and is one of the causes of hyper-proliferative, thick skin. Glycerin may help people with diseases such as psoriasis and non-melanoma skin cancers that result from abnormal proliferation and maturation of skin cells, and may heal wounds more quickly as well. Although it is still used frequently in skin care products, Glycerin is being replaced more and more by its cheaper counterpart, sorbitol.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
For some time it was thought that too much Glycerin in a moisturizer could pull water out of the skin instead of drawing it into the skin. However, researchers (eg Appa et al) have shown that glycerine restores the skin to normal hydration. Some may remember a scare with contaminated Glycerin being imported into the US in various products. This problem was remedied, but is covered in this article from The New York Times.
Recommended Products w/ Glycerin:
Five Best Dry Skin Solutions, Five Best Body Lotions, Five Best Facial Masks, Stemulation Relance Body Lotion