Image by, courtesy of Katie Tegtmeyer

Commonly used in personal care products as an emollient, glycerin has many benefits for household and internal use. It's also frequently marketed as a moisturizer by itself. Pure glycerin, however, can have negative effects when applied topically.


Glycerin is a by-product of the soap making process. Also known as glycerine and glycerol, it is colorless, odorless, syrupy and sweet tasting. According to, pure chemical glycerin is referred to as Glycerol, which shows that it's an alcohol. Glycerol and glycerin, however, are commonly interchangeable.

Personal Lubricants

Although there isn't any conclusive research on the subject, some personal lubricant manufacturers believe that glycerin can cause, if not promote yeast infections in women who are already prone to infection. According to TresSugar, a women's resource website, yeast feeds on sugar, making glycerin on this part of the female body risky.

Skin Dryness

In humidity under 65 percent, glycerin, applied topically, will draw moisture from the lower layers of skin and hold it onto the surface, because it's a humectant. According to, this causes the skin to dry from the inside out, making it potentially harmful in skin care products

Myth concurs that glycerin as hydrating or moisturizing is a myth and what it really does is simply dry skin from the inside out. One feels temporary softness on the skin's surface after application, at the expense of the new cells in the basal layer at the bottom of the epidermis, which dry out.


According to the International Safety Cards on, glycerol's exposure to skin may cause the "Acute Hazard/Symptom" of dryness and protective gloves should be warn when handling it and is easily removed with water or showering.

About the Author

Karina C. Hernandez

K.C. Hernandez has covered real estate topics since 2009. She is a licensed real estate salesperson in San Diego since 2004. Her articles have appeared in community newspapers but her work is mostly online. Hernandez has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and works as the real estate expert for Demand Media Studios.