The Pros and Cons of Glycerin

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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.


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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42 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

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  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

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