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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.

Benefits

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 Comments on "The Pros and Cons of Glycerin"

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Natural curls lover

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.

sha

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.

Sharonda Smith

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.

breeezy1030
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.… Read more »
ZIIISH

I wish you could share your recipe with us. OF the glycerin and water and oil 🙂

Christl

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.

Nakita
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… Read more »
jl

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

Seun Young

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

Leesa

I live in Alabama and it’s pretty humid in the summer here. It seems as if any products I used with Glycerine gave me a big frizzy poof during the summer, but actually works better and I get great curl definition during the winter. I have type 4B hair. I don’t like twist outs. I’m a put my moisturizer in my hair and air dry before I go out and let it ride. But that doesn’t work very well for me in the summer months. Any suggestions?

GBest
Your mid shaft split ting most likely has to do with 2 factors. 1. Porous hair: if your hair. Is extremely pourous then it will absorb water very readily and take a longer time to dry compared to your sister. Your hair acts like a sponge simply put. 2. Glycerin will pull that same water in your hair shaft out when your environment is dry. The hair shaft is thicker as look toward the root correct, thus the water absorbacy will be distributed in a similar gradient. So Charolett, .without looking at your hair under a microscope or getting your… Read more »
Charlotte
I have a question, please. Recently I noticed an increase in midshaft splitting in my hair. I went thru a large process of elimination and am basically down to a really simple routine. The thing that baffles me is that my ends are not splitting, I am just getting holes in some strands on my shaft. It went down a lot when I stopped braiding and bunning but I am still getting some and someone said that glycerin can cause this. I am wondering how I the world I am going to get around glycerin. I use the Shea Moisture… Read more »
Denese
I tried glycerin for the first time 3 days ago (I have been going natural for almost one year now. Next month July will make it one year and I did my BC in May….THE BEST THING I EVER DID lol I absolutely hated transitioning but was afraid but am soooooooo glad I did. Anyway, back to the topic. I washed my hair and used some extra virgin olive oil, shea butter and glycerin and my hair is amazingly soft and shiny BUT my twist out sucks badly. There is ablosutely NO defination or to be fair, very little definition… Read more »
Leiya
I love glycerin! I have really dry hair that feels like rice crispies without moisturizers. Most moisturizers just sit on my hair shaft and clog the pores on my scalp reducing hair growth; but glycerin does not do this. I use it in the spring, summer, winter, or fall and it works really well. It gives my hair elasticity, and moisture allowing it to grow natural and healthy. I have noticed exponential growth with the use of vegan kosher glycerin, which I love. And if your feeling kinda strange and hungry you can eat it too. lol. The only thing… Read more »
Holbrook Oakley

Zwar gibt es erhebliche Spekulationen ??ber die Bedeutung der Zeitpunkt und der Ort der gestrigen schrecklichen Terroranschlag am Boston Marathon, der 3 get?tet und verletzt mehr als 170, werden physische Beweise liefern einige der wichtigsten Anhaltspunkte. Einer der wichtigsten Hinweise ist eine Bombe Unterschrift.

Affiong Okon

Whats brown sugar

Soffy

Sugar made from sugar cane and is less processed than granulated (white) sugar. Therefore, it’s grains are much larger, coarser and more beneficial to the body.

yayo
For me glycerine works best if I mix it with equal parts of water and apply to slightly damp hair! Iv been relaxer free for 2 years and the glycerine is really helping with the transition back to natural hair! Also in winter/cold windy months I mix the glycerine with water and a few drops of argan oil or olive oil just for that extra protection! Also a great mask for your hair is: 2 tablespoons of glycerine 2tablespoons of water 4 tablespoons of conditioner(wash out) Olive oil (or any natural oil) Half tsp of brown sugar or 1whole tsp… Read more »
Tiaira

Does it have to ne vegetable glycerine or is 100% glyc ok?

Leiya

I use vegan kosher glycerin.

Karla

I live in Florida but have heard great reviews on using diluted (with water) Glycerin. Since Florida gets pretty humid should I use a solution with less Glycerin, or possibly use it after a shower so not to absorb excess water? What’s the answer for us Florida girls?? Also, if I use a Glycerin solution, can I mix it with Argon oil, or is it best to use an ingredient that is water soluble? Thanks!

Rae

I too live in FL. Glycerin works great with my up dos (buns, French braids etc…). It does not work on my wash and go style. My hair is very curly and the glycerin aids big time in shrinkage. It doesn’t work with my twist out styles because it takes away my curl definition.

I’m using it now because I’ve been protective styling the last couple of months. In FL, I can use glycerin year round as it doesn’t get all that cold. (Maybe a few days here and there during winter months.)

Ev`Yan

I’m a little confused about something.

Glycerine is a humectant that takes moisture out of the air & sucks it into your strands, right? So why is it ineffective when it’s humid? There’s moisture in humidity, right?

Also, is it effective or ineffective in rainy weather? (This is coming from a gal who lives in Portland, Oregon.)

dandilyonz

It affects the air because its adding moisture to it that is not needed when the air is already styled so that’s why the hair gets puffy. In hotter temperatures it isn’t sucking in any moisture so the hair isn’t affected by excess moisture and will remain how it was styled

The Natural Haven
1. Combine glycerine with water first before using it. It will bind and hold on to this water for dear life! It takes a lot of energy to displace this water. Glycerine works best with humidity which is why the Oyin tip to use the glycerine with hair uncovered in the shower works quite well. In very dry air, glycerine can begin to feel sticky not because it has lost water but rather because their isn’t enough water in the atmosphere. 2. Glycerine is not that effective in the presence of rain. It is highly highly soluble in water and… Read more »
Ev`Yan

Thank you for answering my questions. :]

Nature's Course

It works great! But, if you have permanent color in your hair, beware it will strip the color out of your hair.

Teena

Ive just begun to use glycerin/water mixture only to wake up with red hair color on my white pillowcase. My concern is that my hair is relaxed and colored. Are their amy benefit continuing to use the mixture?

sosoulful_0125

Well I am happy for everyone with great results…..but for me it is definately a miss it. Don’t get me wrong leaves my hair super soft but it get so frizzy I loose all curl defination. Maybe it because I tried it in the summer during the death of Florida humidity. IDK?

meow

I heard/read that in extreme humid environments, glycerin doesn’t work its wonders as well and actually makes the hair feel more dry/frizzy than moisturized.

wathair
I’ve also read that glycerine as a main ingredient may work better in a more balanced humidity/dew point (see denimpixie’s youtube video on dew points). Because I live in South Florida where the dew points and humidity are virtually always super high, it explains to me why glycerine draws moisture from the air into my hair and cause massive frizziness as well as perhaps why in very low humidity/dew points (usually winter for most people), why it may take the moisture out of your hair and put it in the air. Because of this, I plan to try using leave-in/stylers… Read more »
Jami

Can you share more about glycerol?

The Natural Haven

Glycerol is glycerine which is water free. In general in order to keep glycerol water free it has to be stored specially (under a gas such as argon) to prevent water in the air reacting with it.

For use in hair you should mix your glycerine or glycerol with water.

meow

I like glycerin, i’ve used it as part of my regime for 3 years now. It’s really great for the summer months, as Kimmy mentioned, in the cold months, it’s best to use it while taking a shower to let the steam take its effect on it.

Gabrielle

I’ve only been natural 9 months. I have used Vegetable Glycerin mixed in my conditioner for a leave in and it does wonders for my hair. I live in DFW, TX and had no problem with the humidity, etc. I will continue to use it because I don’t have any bad experiences with it. Less is more!
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dailycurlz

your hair is amazing

KD

I luv ur hair, its very pretty and it looks so moisturized!!

MsAfriKanaChic

LOVE your hair!

Bridget

Absolutely love your hair!

Alexandra

Your hair looks beautiful!

Kimmy

I use glycerine year round. I spray my hair after I workout in the morning, and then jump in the shower. I allow the steam from the hot shower to react with the glycerin. This keeps my hair moisturized all day long….even through the winter months.

Marcia

I stayed away from Glycerin in the colder months in the past. But now I use it in the winter time, I just use it differently.

1. In the summer I spritz my hair with water and glycerine and head out to work.

2. In the winter I spritz my hair with water and glycerine before my shower…have a shower with my hair uncovered…let my hair soak up all the steam from my shower. I then head out to work, my hair retains the moisture throughout the day.

anna h

This was very helpful to me thank you. 🙂

Bridget

I love the moisturizing benefits of using glycerine, but I am very cautious when I use it during the winter months. Thanks for the tip on how to use glcerine in the winter. I will definitely give it a try.

Emiley

how and why does glycerin dry out your hair in the winter? New too it and bought some today

Alyssa
The way glycerin works in moisturizing your hair is that when there’s moisture in the air it basically sucks it out and adds it to your hair (which is why if you did a stretched out style and there’s a lot of humidity your hairs goes *POOF* major shrinkage!). But what happens in the winter months is that since it’s cold and dry, it does the exact opposite. Instead it takes moisture out of your hair. I had a terrible time last winter, because my only moisturizer had glycerin as a top product, and my hair was a dry, crunchy… Read more »
mangomadness

I love glycerin cause it keeps my hair soft and well-moisturized. It’s in my leave-in conditioners and my detangling/moisturizing spritz (water/aloe vera gel/veggie glycerin).

The only con is high humidity causing changes in my hairstyles. I’m gonna find a glycerin-free leave-in conditioner to use in high humidity weather.

jaeda barbie

I find I have mixed results with glycerin,in the summer, it works pretty good. But I live in a very cold climate and so I almost have to store away glycerin products,because it can make my hair dry.

Jhunior
I had moderate and pnafiul eczema and had tried several different over the counter creams; creams with anti itch agents and for atopic skin. None worked for more than a minute and my eczema started to get pnafiully worse. I bought this cream hoping it would work, it was pretty expensive. Well this cream does work! It sooths right away and heals! No other over the counter cream does this. Other creams help with the itch but the eczema doesn’t heal. Using this cream for several days healed my moderate and pnafiul eczema. I am so pleased I had to… Read more »
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