Top 10 Uses of Glycerin

Glycerin is a viscous, odorless, colorless liquid with a ubiquitous use in the beauty industry. Commonly used as an essential element in the skin care routine of several women, this compound is composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen.

It is employed in the production of soaps, antiaging gels, and moisturizers. Its wide use is accredited to its therapeutic, humectant, and emollient properties that make glycerin effective in taming a variety of skin conditions.

Aside from the beauty industry, glycerin is put to use in the production of drugs, pharmaceuticals, and food sweeteners and in the paper and print industry.



When it comes to purchasing glycerin, you need to be vigilant, bearing in mind the possibility of adulterated and synthetic varieties. The market is replete with synthetic glycerin-derived compounds from sources such as petroleum-based oils. Natural glycerin ranks much higher than its synthetic counterpart because of its production from plant-based oils, thus being free from any toxins that may be detrimental to your body.

Glycerin is a natural by-product of soap preparations and is often extracted in the commercial manufacturing units to be sold in the form of pricey creams and lotions for financial gains. Handmade soaps retain the glycerin concentration, which gives them an upper hand over commercial soaps.

Applications of Glycerin

Glycerin has been exploited extravagantly in the food, pharmaceutical, and beauty industry. Its multifold applications include:

Food Industry: Pure glycerin is a humectant and can help maintain the moisture in the products. It has found use as a solvent, thickening agent, artificial sweetener, and filling agent.

The entire food industry, ranging from baked goods, grains, sauces, and condiments to processed vegetables, fruits, low-fat foods, and dairy products, all utilize glycerin for its varied usage.

Drugs and Pharmaceutical Industry: Glycerin has also etched its way into the pharmaceutical industry by way of its inherent chemical properties.


It is used as a solvent alternative to alcohol in the preparation of natural tonics and herbal medicines. It can be used in cough syrups, expectorants, and alcohol-free mouthwashes. It is also used in the medical treatment of chronic angina and glaucoma.

Emollient: The moisturizing properties of glycerin are known to one and all, which empowers glycerin with the ability to reign in the arena of skin care.

The emollient or moisturizing properties of glycerin prevent the skin from drying and keeps it smooth. This is what makes it an integral part of the beauty repertoire of many women.

Glycerin has flourished as a component of several beauty products including lotions, creams, soaps, aftershaves, and cosmetics products.

Thick or highly concentrated glycerin has a sticky nature, which can be reduced by the addition of hyaluronic acid and sodium pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA). Moisturizing products made from glycerin may be prepared by combining glycerin with an occlusive agent.[1]


Uses of Glycerin

Here are the various ways you can use glycerin.

1. Retains the Moisture of the Skin

Glycerin is a great moisturizer of the skin. Being an efficient humectant, glycerin attracts moisture and keeps the skin hydrated.[2] It helps retain the moisture by forming a barrier over the skin surface.


These properties make glycerin a perfect candidate in protecting your skin from desiccation and keeping it soft, smooth, and supple.

  1. Apply a generous amount of glycerin to your skin, especially the dry areas.
  2. Let it settle for a few hours before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.
  3. Do this a few times a week.

Using Glycerin for Chapped Lips

Dry and chapped lips are a result of the loss of moisture from them.

  • Mix equal parts of glycerin and rose water. Apply this mixture on your lips a few times a day to keep them moisturized.
  • Alternatively, mix lemon juice, honey, and glycerin in equal amounts. Apply the mixture on your lips before going to bed each night to maintain soft and pink lips.

Using Glycerin for Cracked Feet


A proper moisturizer is the key element to prevent or heal cracks on feet.

  1. Soak your feet in lukewarm water mixed with soap for 5 minutes.
  2. Scrub your feet using a loofah to get rid of the dead skin, and then pat them dry.
  3. Apply glycerin on the heels and massage gently for a few minutes.
  4. Put on a pair of clean socks and leave it on overnight.
  5. Rinse your feet the next morning.
  6. Repeat every day for effective results.

2. Tones Your Skin

Glycerin is a good toner, especially for dry skin.

Glycerin keeps your skin moisturized for long hours. It also helps restore the skin’s pH level and reduces blemishes or scaring, thus making your skin soft and glowing.

Glycerin works in this regard by strengthening the barrier function and preventing the damage that may be afflicted upon the skin by allergens, irritants, and surfactants.[3]

Prepare Your Own Toner

  1. Combine 1 teaspoon of glycerin and 2 tablespoons of rose water.
  2. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and transfer the contents to a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the toner on your clean face, before applying a moisturizer.
  4. Repeat daily or as needed.
  5. You can keep this homemade toner in the refrigerator for about a week.

3. Relieves Inflammatory Skin Problems

Glycerin helps strengthen the skin’s barrier function, which helps prevent moisture loss. It also helps keep toxins and irritants from getting into the skin, which in turn prevents and alleviates inflammatory problems such as dermatitis, itching, and eczema.

A study published in Clinical Medicine & Research in 2017 demonstrated the application of a moisturizer that used glycerin as a base to treat atopic dermatitis in mouse models.[4]

A study published in 2018 in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology states that glycerin can be used as a humectant vehicle in formulations to keep the epidermis of the skin moisturized and to reduce the signs of dermatitis and eczema.[5]

Those who suffer from inflammatory skin conditions can use glycerin to get rid of these irritating and uncomfortable skin problems.

  • Dilute glycerin with water in the ratio 1:1. Apply the solution on the affected area using a cotton ball. After 10 to 15 minutes, rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat two times a day until the skin is healed completely.
  • For scalp psoriasis, apply a mixture of equal parts of glycerin and aloe vera gel on the scalp 30 minutes before showering. Do this two to three times a week until the condition improves.

4. Keeps the Skin Young

Due to its humectant and moisturizing properties, glycerin is excellent in preventing wrinkles and maintaining smooth, young-looking skin. Most skin problems are caused by dryness; hence, using glycerin on a regular basis can help in this regard.

A 2016 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology highlights the role of moisturizers in warding off the effects of aging.[6]

A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2010 states that glycerin is an active ingredient in several beauty products including antiaging creams and facial foundations.[7]

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon each of glycerin and vitamin E oil.
  2. Gently massage your face and neck with this mixture.
  3. Rinse it off after 15 minutes.
  4. Do this simple remedy once a day before bedtime.

5. Cures Mouth Ulcers

Whether you suffer from mouth ulcers or painful mucoceles, glycerin can help treat the problem quickly.

Glycerin is known to be a constituent of mouthwashes. A study published in Biomed Research International in 2017 corroborates that mouthwashes contain glycerin as a humectant and can be used to support oral health and prevent diseases from taking a severe form.[8]

  1. Dab a little vegetable glycerin on the affected area.
  2. Allow it to sit for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Rinse your mouth with cool water.
  4. Repeat three to four times a day until your mouth heals completely.

Anecdotal Uses of Glycerin

The following uses are neither backed by scientific evidence nor are they reviewed by our health experts. Nonetheless, a number of general users have reported an improvement in their condition using these anecdotal uses.

1. Use it to Get Rid of White Tongue

Dry mouth can lead to a white tongue. You can use the hydrating property of vegetable glycerin to ameliorate the dryness, soothe your tongue, and fight bad breath as well.

  1. Take 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin and put it on your tongue.
  2. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your tongue in a gentle motion for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. After brushing, spit out the residue.
  4. Rinse your mouth using warm water.
  5. Do this simple remedy twice a day for 1 week.

2. Use it as an Aftershave Lotion

An aftershave spray is mostly a truckload of chemicals that you apply on your skin after a shaving ritual. The whole idea behind an aftershave is to keep your skin smooth and toned. The good news is that glycerin can help fulfill this purpose.

Now that you are well aware of how glycerin can help keep your skin hydrated, you can ditch the expensive store-bought aftershaves and try this homemade recipe to help you the next time you shave.

DIY Aftershave


  • 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon of vegetable glycerin
  • 1 tablespoon of distilled water
  • 1 capsule of vitamin E
  • The essential oil of sandalwood and rosemary

How to make:

  1. Take the vitamin E capsule, puncture it, and squeeze the contents in a bowl.
  2. Dilute the apple cider vinegar in distilled water and add it to the bowl.
  3. Add the vegetable glycerin to the mix.
  4. Add 3 drops each of sandalwood and rosemary essential oils to the mix.
  5. Use a blender to mix all the ingredients properly.
  6. Your aftershave lotion is ready for use.

Dos and Don’ts with Glycerin

  • Always dilute glycerin when using on your face. Use filtered water or rose water for the purpose, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Use glycerin as directed. Do not overindulge when using glycerin for your face. Do not leave the glycerin on your face for extended time periods. Do not put too much glycerin on your skin at a time as it may become sticky and greasy.
  • Wear sunscreen when using glycerin topically to avoid any sensitivity on exposure to sunlight.
  • Make sure to wash the excess glycerin from your skin before going outside. Otherwise, your skin will end up attracting dirt and other grime.
  • Do not use glycerin with sticky lotions, as glycerin is already sticky.
  • Start with a small amount and perform a patch test. If you observe any redness or side effects, avoid using it.


  1. Chularojanamontri L, Tuchinda P, Kulthanan K, Pongparit K. Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents? The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. Published May 2014.
  2. Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, Danarti R, Saefudin T. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clinical medicine & research. Published December 2017.
  3. Rodan K, Fields K, Majewski G, Falla T. Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open. Published December 14, 2016.
  4. Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, Danarti R, Saefudin T. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clinical medicine & research. Published December 2017.
  5. Draelos ZD, Raymond I. The Efficacy of a Ceramide-based Cream in Mild-to-moderate Atopic Dermatitis. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. Published May 2018.
  6. Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian journal of dermatology. Published 2016.
  7. Draelos ZD. Active agents in common skin care products. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Published February 2010.
  8. Müller H-D, Eick S, Moritz A, Lussi A, Gruber R. Cytotoxicity and Antimicrobial Activity of Oral Rinses In Vitro. BioMed research international. Published 2017.

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