WHAT IT IS
Glycerin is a thick and colorless and water-soluble liquid organic compound that is also known as glycerol.
It can be made naturally from products like vegetable oil, animal oil or can be synthesized from petroleum. Glycerin has a wide range of uses including in cosmetic skincare, food production, pharmaceuticals, personal care and especially for medical purposes.
Glycerin is a humectant (much like honey) which means it has the ability to attract moisture to the skin and prevent skin dryness which is really why many cosmetic formulators love to use it in lotions and soaps. If you have ever put honey on your skin, you’d have experienced this moisture effect.
It is also an emollient which means that it has softening abilities. When applied on skin, it leaves the skin feeling soft to the touch.
At Botafrik, glycerin is one of our favorite ingredients to experiment with in the lab.
Another interesting thing about this liquid is the fact that it is a good solvent. Generally, glycerites are made with glycerin as solvent.
USES IN DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES
Because of its ability to absorb and lock in moisture, it is used in hair and skincare products (especially for natural kinky hair), in lipbalms and baby care products. It can also be used as emulsifier in lotions.
If you check the ingredient list of most moisturizing cosmetics, you will find that after water, glycerin is usually the second ingredient. This shows that it is second major ingredient in most cosmetics.
In the food industry, it is used as solvent for flavors, as artificial sweetener, thickener and an ingredient in margarine. It is also used to extend the shelf-life of some foods.
It is used in the production of paint, plasticizers and solvents.
It is found in mouthwashes, cough syrups and elixirs.
Abusing glycerin means using quantities above the recommended one for any project. When applied directly on skin as is, glycerin becomes very drying and pulls away moisture from your skin and/hair. You’d be treating your skin wrong if this happened.
It also gets very sticky when used in high concentrations so be careful when you use it in your soaps as it will surely make the soap to sweat!
To use, you should always dilute it with water.
More resource and further reading