With so many options for skincare products, how do you know which ingredients are right for your skin type? Sometimes perfecting your skincare regimen requires trial and error, as one Skincare-News reader discovered. Read on to find out how our beauty expert responds to a pressing skincare concern about glycerin and sensitive skin. Plus, get tips for choosing your ingredients wisely in all of your skincare products.
No matter your skin type, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to skincare. This is especially true for sensitive skin – an ingredient that works wonders for one person may have the opposite effect for others. The key, according to one of our resident estheticians, is to understand that all skin types are unique and require careful monitoring of ingredients to ensure the best results.
The reader below wrote in to inform us of her experience with glycerin, a common ingredient in sensitive skincare products and recommended in our article, Caring for Sensitive Skin. Get the facts behind this controversial ingredient, as evaluated by esthetician Karen Feinberg and our team of skincare experts.
Dear Skincare-News Team,
Your article “Caring for Sensitive Skin” (January 27, 2009) recommended moisturizers for people with sensitive skin. Based on personal experience, I strongly disagree with your suggestion to “look for products rich in…hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid.”
I have mildly sensitive skin, and I've tried using glycerin. It did not improve my skin. In fact, it seemed that glycerin could not be absorbed by my skin, and as a result my skin got drier and drier. I hope you will reconsider including glycerin in your article as a beneficial ingredient for sensitive skin, as it is quite misleading.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for your recent email regarding your thoughts on glycerin. We appreciate your time, readership and concern and do our best to answer as many emails as possible to address our readers’ feedback seriously and respectfully. Your letter was of course treated with the same due diligence.
Multiple members of our team read your concerns about glycerin in order to ensure that we had published an accurate statement. In the event of an error, we would immediately correct it. However, after hours of research on ingredients for sensitive skin, skin allergies and sensitivities, products and brands that specialize in lines for sensitive skin, as well as phone calls to skin care professionals and practitioners (including a well-respected dermatologist), we feel we were accurate in our report.
Glycerin is used in many skin care products specifically for sensitive skin conditions. Oftentimes, it is the second or third ingredient within a product’s ingredients list (indicating that it is a very important “sensitive skin type” ingredient of choice). After researching why this would be the case, we found that glycerin is very rarely an allergen and is also reported to be “highly hygroscopic,” meaning it absorbs water directly from the air, in addition to maintaining and retaining water in the skin. Therefore, glycerin keeps skin hydrated and provides an effective skin barrier that helps prevent dryness—often a major cause of skin sensitivity.
After researching various professional and well-known brands known specifically for being highly effective and gentle for sensitive skin, we have concluded that glycerin is in fact an ingredient almost universally used and considered safe for sensitive skin types. Our references include brands and lines such as Cetaphil, Pevonia Botanica RS2 Rosacea line, Phytomer’s Soothing products, La Roche Posay Toleriane line and Atopalm brand products, just to name a few.
However, that being said, it is important to remember that everyone’s skin is unique and reacts differently to different ingredients, even those generally considered safe and effective. Therefore, glycerin may not be the ingredient for you, and it would indeed be advisable for you to discontinue use. We also recommend checking all ingredients within your products to be sure that there isn’t something else that may also be causing your sensitivities. Typical allergens and irritants include (but are not limited to) preservatives, formaldehyde releasers, abrasives and fragrance.
Again, thank you for bringing this important issue to our attention. Our articles are not intended to substitute for medical advice; rather, we do our best to provide readers with accurate, well-researched information on all things beauty-related. We apologize for any inconvenience our article may have caused you.
With warmest regards,
Karen Feinberg, Esthetician
Got a question about sensitive skin or anything skincare-related? Send us an email at email@example.com. We love to hear from our readers!