Skin care advice: Why is glycerine important in soap?
This article explains the cosmetic virtues of glycerine, which is a widely appreciated element found in better skincare products such as soap and lotion.
Glycerine, by definition, is an oily, viscous, triatomic alcohol. It is colorless and odorless, exudes a hot, sweetish taste, and combines with various acids to form the basis for several naturally occurring fats and oils. It is highly combustible, irritates the respiratory tract, and is toxic if ingested. Given the nature of this chemist’s tool, you may find yourself asking, what, then, is it doing in our skincare products!?
In answer to this question, which surely crosses the mind of most every person interested in the art of cosmetic maintenance, healthy skin depends largely upon the production of natural moisturizers that help the skin attract, as well as retain, moisture. This is precisely where the glycerine bar comes into play!
Applied topically, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) encourage the production of naturally occurring moisturizers, as well as the formation of new skin cells. Common household products like apples, milk, sugarcane, citrus fruits, tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, and blackberries all contain these alpha hydroxyl acids. Two of the more common AHAs are lactic and glycolic acids. Lactic acid works best for the sole purpose of improving your skin’s moisture content, while glycolic acid is more effective at sloughing away dead skin cells and promoting subsequent regrowth and renewal.
Glycerine, as it is found in upscale soaps, is a humectant derivative of vegetable fatty acids, which draw vital moisture to the skin while ensuring its flexibility and resilience. It is said that glycerine is beneficial in that it moisturizes “from the inside out,” able to deeply penetrate the skin and work its wonders outward. A helpful tip, it is quite beneficial, both for you and your razor, to stimulate this exfoliation process prior to hair removal. Regarding either one’s legs or face, pre-shave exfoliation prevents the razor from becoming clogged with dead skin cells, providing a smoother, razorburn-free experience.
This day in the age of consumerism, it is important to know what you are buying! While the FDA has required ingredient labeling on all foodstuffs for several years, commercial soap manufacturers have no such obligations. In fact, the glycerine content is actually removed from many of the commonly marketed, cost-effective soaps, and utilized in higher priced skincare products like lotions and creams. The manufacturer will typically add a number of chemicals to make up for this lack of glycerin, often detergent-based, resulting in a decidedly harsher, less moisturizing clean. When perusing the shelves, keep in mind that the less glycerin content in a soap, the cheaper its quality and equivalent cost.
Taking into consideration the fact that early bathers indulged in soaps made of tallow, cow or sheep fat, and later lye, a corrosive alkaline, the virtue and reasonability of glycerine in soap seems not so farfetched at all. So do yourself a favor and baby your skin. Though exfoliation and rejuvenation are a daily routine, you only get one coat. Is it not time to pamper your skin and end the chemically damaging effects of mass-market soap?