Glycerin is a compound that can be made from natural products such as vegetable oil, or can be synthesized from propylene alcohol. The result is an alcohol-based product that is an ingredient in many skin-care products. Glycerin, also called glycerol, can be used for both cosmetic purposes and as a treatment for medical conditions of the skin. Most people are very tolerant of glycerin, without experiencing irritation. The effects of glycerin on skin are a healthier, more natural-looking appearance.
Promotes Skin Cell Maturation
Glycerin, or glycerol, can fight the effects of skin diseases such as psoriasis. Drs. Xiangjian Zheng and Wendy Bollinger Bollag explain in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology that glycerin, when applied to the skin, signals the cells to mature in normal fashion. Psoriasis is a skin disease in which the skin cells shed too quickly, before they are properly mature, causing thickened, scaly skin. The application of glycerin can interrupt this abnormal process, and allows the cells to reach full maturation before shedding. The compound can also help wounds heal more quickly in some cases.
Maintains Water Balance
Glycerin is what is called a humectant, meaning that it attracts water. When glycerin or glycerol is applied to the skin, it seals in moisture that might otherwise escape. According to Dermaxime, a manufacturer of anti-aging skin-care products, glycerin helps maintain the skin's water balance on an intercellular level. In easier-to-understand language, glycerin in lotions or other skin care products can help prevent or combat dry skin.
Improve Appearance of Skin
In addition to keeping the moisture level of the skin on track, the cosmetic effect of glycerin on skin is that the skin looks healthier and more attractive with the use of glycerin. The improved appearance of skin is due in part to the fact that the skin is hydrated and does not have the characteristic scaly look of dry skin. The fact that glycerin can have a therapeutic effect on wounds and other skin diseases also contributes to skin looking healthier and smoother. Glyercin is an emollient, making skin not only moist, but soft and supple to the touch.