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Creative Uses for Glycerin: Health, Personal Care, and Crafts

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Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!

Glycerin provides many use cases.

Glycerin provides many use cases.

What Is Glycerin?

Glycerin is a colorless, gooey liquid that freezes to a paste and has a high boiling point. It is also hygroscopic—it absorbs water from the air. Glycerin is an integral component of triglycerides. It is odorless and colorless and has a high viscosity while tasting slightly sweet. Pharmaceutical uses consist of adding it to cough syrups and elixirs. It is also used as a preservative and softening agent, making it perfect for skincare products such as soaps, lotions, lip gloss, cosmetics, and body scrubs.

Glycerin Uses and Benefits

There are plenty of good reasons for adding glycerin to personal items including:

  • It helps to retain moisture. All skin types tolerate it well without any adverse reactions.
  • Glycerin is also inexpensive, making it another great option for the frugally minded. You can easily purchase a six fluid ounce bottle for as little as $4. However, make sure to use it diluted.
  • Glycerin is non-toxic, making it perfect for skin products that are manufactured specifically for infants and young children. It is also known to be the most versatile ingredient in beauty products because it does not lose its chemical stability when combined with other substances. It is also highly unlikely to cause any type of allergic reaction. These qualities are what make it perfect for those with sensitive skin.
  • It protects overly dry skin by filling in the inter-cellular skin matrix and also helps in building even skin structure. Its humectant properties make it the best product for dry skin because it attracts just the right amount of moisture required to hydrate the skin. It also creates a barrier that prevents moisture loss.

Glycerin for Health and Personal Care

Glycerin is used as a moisturizer to treat and prevent dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin, and minor irritations (diaper rash and skin burns). Emollients are substances that soften and moisturize the skin and decrease itching and flaking by preventing dryness.

  • Add a few drops to your favorite aftershave, for smooth, soft, moisture locked skin.
  • Add a few drops of your favorite shampoo to eliminate dry, flaky scalps and dandruff.
  • Add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer and sunscreen. It also helps prevent and clear acne and eczema.
  • Create a home-made lip balm with 1 part glycerin and 3 parts coconut oil. Add essential oil for scent and food coloring for color if desired, or when making for gifts! Mix well and refrigerate for 2 hours to set.
  • Home-made soap: Buy glycerin opaque chunks at your local craft store, melt, add color, and scent and pour into molds. It's just that easy!
  • Exfoliate: Mix 1 tbsp glycerin, 2 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp milk, add some oatmeal to the mixture and make it into a thick paste and rub it around on your face. Leave it on for about 10–15 minutes; this mixture will unclog skin pores and cleanse the skin while toning and brightening.
  • Make a skin toner with rose water and glycerin: The mixture is available anywhere at drugstores, but you can also make your own rose water and glycerin mix at home. Store it in a spray bottle and just spray it on anytime your skin feels dry. It gives your skin a healthy glow and dewy look.
  • For deep hair conditioning: Add 10 ml of glycerin directly to a bottle of conditioner (50ml) shake and mix well, use that conditioner regularly. Your hair will be ultimately conditioned!
  • To repair split ends of hair: Smooth a few drops on your ends, it temporarily seals split ends and leaves your hair looking renewed and smooth.
  • Home-made eyeliner: Crush eyeshadow of any color you desire (the more you add to the mixture, the richer the pigment will be) make sure the container you put the final product is airtight. Using another container mix a few drops of glycerin and a few drops of almond oil to the eyeshadow, do so until you have the desired consistency. Instant eyeliner!
  • Fizzy bath bombs (another recipe): 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup fine citric acid, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup fine Epsom salt (optional), grind all these together in a food processor. Then pour into a large mixing bowl. Next, mix: 2 1/2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil, 3/4 Tablespoon water and liquid glycerin, 1/2 teaspoon of Essential Oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of Borax, mix this well then add to a spray bottle. Mist the dry mix with what you put in the spray bottle. Don't over mist. Think "wet sand" consistency. Mush into a mold of your choice, pack tightly. Gently remove and allow to dry overnight. Enjoy!
  • Bath salt: Mix all these in a bowl with a spoon, add a generous heap to a relaxing bath, and enjoy! 3 cups coarse kosher salt or sea salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, 2 tbsp vegetable glycerin, 20–30 drops of essential oils (your choice of scent)!
  • Homemade face peel: What you'll need, one egg, bowl, honey, glycerin, spoon or whisk. Break the egg and separate the whites from the yolk. Place the egg white into a bowl and beat it until slightly fluffy. Add 1 tsp. of honey. The stickiness of honey helps the peel remove dead skin cells. Add 1 tsp. of glycerin. Beat the mixture together until well mixed. Apply the mixture to your entire face. Allow 15-30 minutes to dry. Your facial skin will feel tight when it is dry. You can now peel the mix off your face. Rinse your face with water when done. Your skin will feel toned, smooth, and fresh!

Glycerin and Soap

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Rebecca


Dianna Mendez on October 13, 2013:

I always wondered what glycerin was made of and am glad to hear it is basicaly non-toxic. It certainly has many uses. I knew it was used in explosives but your chart shows it is so minor. Good to know.

laral from England on October 03, 2013:

I use glycerine to make soaps. My skin is very dry and can't tolerate ordinary soaps not even home made with lye. The glycerine is perfect. Thank you for this article! I love all home made beauty recipes.

Rebecca (author) from USA on October 02, 2013:

hey..that is a great idea! I'm not "done" with this hub, I have a lot more to add to it, but wanted to publish it tonight, feeling sleepy here in Ohio. I may add what you did with glycerin if you don't mind? Apparently you can use this stuff to make explosives too. lol Thanks for the comment!

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on October 02, 2013:

Very interesting. My dad was a printer and in the "olden days" if you wanted a duplicate, triplicate or quad invoice printed on different colors of paper.. or any other business forms that required carbons or onionskin tissue-- they all had to be "gathered" or collated by hand. My sister and I used to do the job of 'gathering' two or more piles pf printed paper into one stack. We used glycerin to moisturize our fingers , which would otherwise get very dry from handling the paper and make it hard to grab the sheets. I never really knew the other uses.

It is really a substance with interesting properties.