The Pros and Cons of Glycerin


Over the next few weeks our resident scientist, Jc will be examining products and ingredients that are popular in the natural hair world — not to disparage them, but to provide a well-rounded view of them. Check it out:

Glycerin is a humectant that is commonly added to leave in conditioners. It is generally regarded as natural although some naturals debate that as it can be produced as a by product from petroleum.  It should be noted though that most glycerin does come from soap making where plant oils are used.  A second general note is that glycerin can be referred to as glycerine or vegetable glycerine or the water free form, glycerol. All of these terms refer to the same compound.


1.  It can be made from natural oils and is  generally considered non toxic (only very large volumes are known to be harmful).

2. For natural hair, it is known to prevent hair from breaking during combing  (but not on relaxed hair). (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists pg 39-52 1985)

3. As a humectant, it plays a role in moisturising hair.

4. It can easily be mixed with many other water soluble ingredients making it easy to add to a variety of hair products commercially or homemade.

Risks / Negatives

1.  Glycerin is affected by weather conditions notably humidity and heat. It can be difficult to get consistent results.

2.  It is highly soluble in water which makes it most effective as a leave in.  Rinse out hair conditioners containing glycerin may not produce the desired effect.

3. Glycerin can feel very sticky when applied, especially if too much is used.

Ladies, have you experienced any of these pros or cons? Share below!

Previous articles on glycerin:
It’s Okay to Use Glycerin in the Winter

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49 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Glycerin

  1. Hi, ve bn natural for 10 mnths now and i chopped off bout two wks ago. I live in Nigeria and… I noticed some red hair strands today…can anyone explain what might be the cause…basically i use shea butter, water, my leave-in conditioner(dark and lovely), organics hair mayonnaise and emily millionaire coconut oil and 100% herbs

  2. if you live in a dry heat climate its best to avoid glycerin at all cost. gave me the worst split ends. no matter what I did, it still dried my hair out causing splits. I had the worst mid strand splits and its taking forever to be mid strand split free, im about 80-90% free from them. my hair has greatly improves since avoiding glycerin in most of my hair products. leave ins with glycerin i avoid but wash out conditioners are fine

  3. I am a year into being natural and i recently started using natural things to put in my hair. my biggest issue was keeping my hair moisturized with out adding more and mmore heavy products so when i found out about glycerin i put it with my shea butter then i mixed it with water and when i just need to sprits my hair it does the job… i dont have any complaints no cons no negative anything about it…. I love how it makes my hair soft easy to comb makes my hair and it doesnt look dry or thirsty i definitely recommend this to my friends and family who are natural going natural or even thinking about being natural

  4. I became curious about vegatable glycerin from reading blogs such as this one, and at first I thought that it was one of those products that was hard to find and expensive. Then one day I came across it in my local Walgreens. I bought an 8oz. bottle and it sat on my dresser forever because i didn’t know exactly how to use it. I had read all of the very different reviews ranging from “wonderful” to “it sucks”, so I had to wait until I had time to deal with a possibly wasted/ruined hair day before I started experimenting. When I finally cracked my bottle, I must say I fell in love. I have been natural for two years now, and as we all know, it is a constant learning experience that is uniquely your own. Although I am not a fan of spending tons of money on products, I still like to try new things. But like most people I have my favorites that give me consistently great results and I always go back to them. But the one thing that has made a huge difference in my journey is vegetable glycerin! I use a small amount mixed with my favorite oils and some water, and I spritz with it every day. It keeps my hair super soft, shiny, and moist like nothing else can. And its super inexpensive! I don’t believe I could live without it now. I live in Northern California (Bay Area) and our climate is basically comfortable all year around, I never have problems with it no matter what the weather is. Its like a miracle ingredient. No wonder its a staple in beauty products! I recommend it to people and they have all added it to their go to list, and now my son and my husband use it daily for their locs and such. So If your reading this and wondering about it, go spend three bucks on a bottle, and next time you may pass on that overpriced $40 jar of “pudding” that will probobly end up in the back of your closet collecting dust!

    • I live in the Bay Area too! So happy to here it works with our weather because I heard in extremely dry climates it can pull moisture out of the hair.

  5. I live in Orlando and have tried glycerin twice now. My hair absolutely loves it. I wash and go once a week or so. I use it after applying my leave in conditioner and Eco styler gel. It has made all the difference. I am able to go a week or so with just spritzing with water every couple of days. It’s a tad bit sticky when applying but so worth it. My hair is so soft and full of bounce. This is a new staple for me.

  6. Glycerin has done wonders for my daughter’s porous hair! Her hair gets really dry – I’ve tried so many products but none has worked like the glycerin. It makes her hair really soft and shiny. I love that it’s water-based too because it’s washes off easily.

  7. I love it. I use organic glycerin to minimize chemicals in my body and hair. It works like wonders to leave my hair soft, moisturized, and it helps to detangle my hair with my essentials oils and almond oil in a most glass bottle.

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