Hint: it’s probably already in your favorite products
You might not know it yet, but glycerin is your dry skin’s best friend. In fact, it’s the third most common ingredient in skin care formulas, and for good reason. Glycerin works to hydrate the outer layer of the skin, improving skin barrier function and accelerating the healing process, all without irritation.
So, what is glycerin, exactly? It’s a clear, colorless humectant naturally derived from vegetable oils (and sometimes animal fats). Humectants, like hyaluronic acid, allantoin and glycerin, help to draw water into the skin and keep it there — a must-have first step for treating dehydrated skin.
By introducing glycerin-heavy products into your routine, your skin will look and feel more dewy and hydrated. In order to maximize the effectiveness of this moisturizing agent, just remember that the order of application is key: humectants work best when applied first to clean, damp (not wet) skin. After applying your glycerin products of choice, lock them in with richer, more occlusive products—like petrolatum for slugging—for skin that stays plump and healthy from day to night.
Where To Find It
Glycerin is extremely common across the skin care world, but a lot of products designed for sensitive and dry skin feature glycerin right at the top of their ingredient lists thanks to its ability to act as a moisture magnet. Here are a few of our favorite K-Beauty stand-outs that will give your skin a healthy dose of glycerin goodness.
Glycerin is a favorite for sheet masks as it works to hydrate while its viscous texture helps keep masks locked in place. This mask from Klairs is beloved for its barrier-repairing abilities thanks to the addition of ceramides, cooling aloe vera and soothing centella asiatica extract. Keep it in the fridge and pop it on when your skin is in need of some TLC.
Glycerin gives hydrating and exfoliating toners a comfortable “slip” on the skin, helping to prep it for more intensive treatments.
This one sweeps away dead skin cells with a 1% blend of AHAs and PHAs for gentle smoothing. It also contains other hard-working humectants like birch juice and sodium hyaluronate to keep skin feeling comfortable and soft. Its mild formula makes it a perfect introduction to exfoliation for even the most sensitive, dehydrated skin types.
After toning, smooth this serum onto skin for a barrier-strengthening boost. Both sides of this dual-chamber serum have glycerin in their formulas, as it works to draw the soothing and repairing ingredients deeper into the skin for better product penetration. With probiotics, niacinamide and peptides, this gentle serum makes skin stronger, smoother and brighter.
Easily absorbed into the skin, this cream has a minimal ingredient list which makes it perfect for fussy, easily-irritated skin. Plant-derived berry extract and squalane work alongside glycerin to calm itchiness and prevent moisture loss, with reviewers raving about its abilities to soothe rashes and redness.
Is glycerin a part of your hydration routine? Let us know in the comments.