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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 of honey.…leave in… 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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