Glycerine is a very popular humectant in skin care products. Humectants are ingredients that have the ability to attract water molecules from the surrounding by absorption. There has also been a bit of debate about whether glycerine should be used in low humidity areas or not.
Here’s what the Dermatology Times had to say about glycerine “While glycerine is a highly effective moisturising ingredient in low humidity climates , it can leave the skin with a sticky feel in humid environments“.
“…they (humectants) are able to attract water from the atmosphere (if the atmospheric humidity is greater than 80%) and from the underlying dermis. Although humectants may draw water from the environment to help hydrate the skin, in low humidity conditions, they may take water from the deeper epidermis and dermis resulting in dryness. For this reason, they work better with occlusive“(Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles & practice by Leslie Baumann, page 94).
Cons of using glycerine in areas of low humidity
At low humidity, glycerine may actually pull water from the lower layers of the skin to the stratum corneum, and from here the water might actually be evaporated into the atmosphere. Over time, this unidirectional movement from the lower layers of the skin to the stratum corneum , into the atmosphere will lead to the skin being dried out from the inside out.
Pros of using Glycerine in areas of low humidity
- It helps to prevent crystallisation of the stratum corneum model lipid mixture “in vitro” at low room humidity.
- There is also evidence suggesting that the use of humectants can increase mildness (reduce skin irritability) in skincare products.
Can glycerine be used in areas of low humidity?
Yes!. They can be used with an occlusive ingredient. Occlusives help to reduce trans epidermal water loss, therefore, they prevent or reduce the loss of water from the (epidermis) skin surface to the atmosphere by forming a protective film on top of the skin surface.
Some natural occlusive used in skin care include beeswax and lanolin. Some butters like cocoa butter also offer occlusive properties to skin.