Dermatologists Swear by This Underrated Skincare Ingredient—Here's Why

The world of skincare is always buzzing with new ingredient trends—ingredients like squalane, ceramides and cica have been in the beauty spotlight of late as part of a bigger trend around supporting the skin barrier. But the thing is, when an ingredient goes viral, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's totally new. Squalane and ceramides have been used in skincare formulations for years for example, and cica has been a staple ingredient in Korean skincare products for decades. 

We're often so caught up in the hype around skin-changing actives like retinol and vitamin C, that we neglect the underrated ingredients that are the heroes in our everyday skincare products. Glycerin is a case in point. 


(Image credit: @HAILEYBIEBER)

Glance at the ingredient lists on your current lineup of skincare products and there's a strong chance that glycerin will feature in the majority of lotions and potions you're using. In fact, it's often at the top of the list—which means it's one of the main ingredients in the formula. Indeed, ask any skincare expert or dermatologist and they'll tell you that glycerin really is nothing new. So why is beautyTok suddenly obsessed?

"Glycerin is becoming popular as people have picked up on its non-comedogenic and hydrating properties," says consultant dermatologist Dr Zainab Laftah. She likens the ingredient to hyaluronic acid, a powerful hydrator which first experienced its own hype a decade ago and has been a popular ingredient call-out on product packaging and in marketing campaigns ever since.

And with good reason—each molecule of hyaluronic acid has the ability to draw in 1000 times its weight in water. But, if you have dry or dehydrated skin, then glycerin could actually have more benefit. "Glycerin is a smaller molecular than hyaluronic acid, and therefore absorption is greater and with deeper penetration into the skin," adds Dr Laftah


(Image credit: @BROSIAAA)

But what exactly is glycerin, and what does it do? "Glycerin is a light, versatile and hydrating ingredient which is found in many types of products," explains Dr Laftah. "Due to its hydrating properties, it's commonly used in cleansers, moisturisers and sunscreens. It hydrates the skin barrier by drawing water from the atmosphere into the stratum corneum, which is the top layer of skin."

Like hyaluronic acid, glycerin has benefits for all skin types, since hydrated skin leads to healthy skin. But, as mentioned, it's an especially beneficial ingredient for those with dry or dehydrated skin, or if you're sensitive or acne-prone, since it's non-comedogenic, meaning it won't block pores. 

Now, chances are you're already benefitting from glycerin in your skincare routine, but in case you're not, I've rounded up the ultimate edit of the best glycerin skincare products below—the ingredient features heavily in all of these formulas.

Shop the Best Glycerin Skincare Products:

1. Beauty Pie High Intensity Hydration Superdrops

2. Stella McCartney Beauty Alter-Care Serum

3. Transparent Lab Pure Glycerin Face Serum

4. Byoma Hydrating Serum

5. Skin + Me Soothe + Smooth Light Moisturiser

6. Rhode Skin Peptide Glazing Fluid

7. Augustinus Bader The Essence

8. La Roche-Posay Nutritic Intense Rich

9. Medik8 Liquid Peptides

10. Dr. Jart+ Vital Hydra Solution Deep Hydration Sheet

11. Paula's Choice Water Infusing Electrolyte Moisturiser

12. Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist

Next Up: How to Carry Out the Ultimate Skincare Routine, According to a Dermatologist

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines.

While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.