Glycerin for skin

We lift the lid on the hydrating ingredient to know now. Keep reading to find out why you should be adding glycerin to your skincare routine.

Glycerin for skin

We lift the lid on the hydrating ingredient to know now. Keep reading to find out why you should be adding glycerin to your skincare routine.

There are some buzzy skincare actives that everyone knows about – think retinol, peptides, vitamin C – and then there are a handful of insider-loved ingredients that haven't quite had their moment in the spotlight. Glycerin falls into the latter category, but thanks to skincare TikTok, where the hashtag #glycerin has amassed well over 80 million views, this unsung hydration hero is finally getting the attention it deserves.


If you look at the INCI list of a few of your favourite products – cleansers, serums, moisturisers, eye creams – you will likely see glycerin (also known as glycerol and glycerine) appearing time and time again. But despite its wide usage in skincare and beyond, it's always flown somewhat under the radar. So what actually is glycerin, what does it do for skin and why does it appear in so many skincare formulas? Essentially, glycerin is a natural compound derived from lipids, and in skincare it is used as a highly effective humectant – a hydrating ingredient that draws in water from the atmosphere to replenish moisture and soften the skin, much like hyaluronic acid. But that’s just one of many benefits of this hydration powerhouse, which takes a starring role in our cult favourite Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion.


Let’s take it right back to basics: read on for our beginner’s guide to all things glycerin. 


Is glycerin good for skin?

Glycerin is a skin-identical humectant and is similar to hyaluronic acid in the way it behaves. It’s suitable for all skin types as it mirrors skin’s natural moisturising factors, which gradually deplete as we age. Whatever your skin type, glycerin helps to strengthen and fortify the skin’s moisture barrier, offering lightweight, long-lasting hydration without irritation.


Glycerin skin benefits

There are many benefits of glycerin in skincare, but its main use is to hydrate the skin. Other glycerin skin benefits include:


• Glycerin helps to strengthen the skin barrier, protecting skin from environmental aggressors, pollution and irritants. This also helps to increase skin’s elasticity and resilience over time.


• It boosts moisture levels to help soften and smooth dry, dehydrated skin. It hydrates and plumps up skin for youthful, dewy look.


• Glycerin helps to boost absorption of other active ingredients in the upper layers of the skin.


• In our iconic Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, glycerin combines with other natural moisturising factors and soothing barley, sunflower and cucumber extracts to help replenish skin’s oil-water balance.


Is glycerin better than hyaluronic acid?

As we touched on earlier, glycerin and hyaluronic acid are both humectants, which work by drawing in water from the air to replenish moisture for soft, smooth, supple skin. The main difference between the two is their molecular size and typical texture – hyaluronic has a water-like consistency, while higher concentrations of glycerin can have a tacky or sticky feel, though this isn't noticeable in skincare when combined with other emollient ingredients. Though they interact with the skin in different ways, both ingredients are great for your skin, particularly if you are looking to achieve a youthful, hydrated, healthy glow.


It's also worth noting that the ingredients work well together, so there’s no need to choose between the two. In fact, glycerin and hyaluronic acid is the perfect combination if you’re looking to boost hydration and improve your skin’s barrier function.


Where can I find glycerin for skin?

Long before it was trending, way back in 1968, we featured glycerin in our iconic Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion formula. Powered by glycerin and urea, our cult classic, dermatologist-developed moisturiser supports a stronger moisture barrier for healthier looking skin. Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic and lightweight, it’s the perfect everyday glycerin moisturiser for soft, comfortable skin. Alongside glycerin, this bestselling moisturising lotion also contains urea, an ultra nourishing keratolytic emollient, and a blend of barley, sunflower and cucumber extracts to soothe and condition. It slips on easily and absorbs quickly, leaving skin with a healthy glow and eight hours of comfortable hydration.


The original formula is best suited to dry to very dry skin types, whereas our Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Gel delivers the same hydrating benefits in an oil-free gel formula, ideal for combination, oily and sensitive skin types. This dermatologist-developed moisturising gel combines glycerin with soothing extracts to balance, refresh and condition, while replenishing skin’s oil-water balance. You can also find glycerin in many other Clinique moisturisers, including Moisture Surge™ 100H, Moisture Surge™ Intense and Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream.


Beyond moisturisers, glycerin is also often added to cleansers to make them more conditioning, without clogging the pores or irritating the skin. It's also a key ingredient in cleansers as it helps seal in moisture and prevent any irritation during the cleansing process. Discover your ideal glycerin cleanser here.



Why should you add glycerin to your skincare routine

Glycerin has multiple benefits and is suitable for all skin types, so it's definitely worth adding a glycerin-rich formula to your skincare rotation. It's also a great ingredient to try if you feel your skin needs a reset, perhaps if you've been using some harsh actives or your skin has been reacting to hormonal, seasonal or stress-related changes. It's a gentle, naturally-derived ingredient that really helps restore, hydrate and strengthen your skin, without irritation.

Need some help creating your ideal skincare routine? Book in for a complimentary Skin School consultation with one of our own experts, where they’ll answer all your skincare questions and prescribe a Clinique skincare routine tailored to your skin type, concerns and goals. You’ll also receive 10% off* your first order following your consultation.
* T&Cs apply. Words by Shona Wallace, November 2023.

Shop glycerin skincare:

Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, Dermatologist-developed formula that supports a stronger moisture barrier for healthier looking skin.
125ml (With pump)
50ml (bottle)
50ml (Tube)
Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Gel, Dermatologist-developed moisturising gel balances and refreshes oilier skin types.​
50ml (Tube)
125ml (With Pump)
200 ml