Blog · Get Well

Glycerin in Hand Cream: Good or Bad?


At the peak of the winter season in Syracuse, along with the large amounts of snow comes dry skin, especially on our hands, which experience biting winds and excessive hand-washing. So we turn to our hand creams, seeking fast-relief and a return to softer, smoother hands. One of the main ingredients in our hand creams, however, is glycerin, which might actually be harming your skin.

Glycerin in its purest form is known as glycerol, which is an alcohol and dries the skin out. Glycerol has been known to dehydrate the skin so greatly that it causes blistering, so beware of products that have this as one of the main ingredients.

It is used in many skin and hand lotions and creams because it is hydroscopic, meaning it draws water from other sources, in this case mainly from the lower layers of skin known as the dermis. This could only be good for skin, because it brings water to the dry, surface layers of the skin, right? Wrong. In reality, this process ends up drying your skin from the inside out. Worse yet, if there is too much glycerin, it ends up creating a invisible layer on the skin, which blocks outside moisture from actually entering the skin.

In smaller amounts, however, when combined with enough water and other oils such as jojoba oil, the effect of this chemical isn’t as harsh. Also, if you naturally have more oily skin, the effects may not be as drastic. Just to be safe, though, be sure to read the ingredients before you decide to buy, or else your hands may end up feeling even more dry!