Vegetable glycerin is a product commonly used in cosmetic products and soaps, for application on the skin. It is also known as glycerol or simply glycerin, and comes from plant remains of coconut, palm and, in general, plants that produce oils.
The product in liquid form is shaped like syrup or hand soap, and has a mellow and soft texture, with no apparent smell.
Today there are several interesting uses given to glycerin, especially for some beneficial properties it offers to the skin. However, there are also some contraindications that we will indicate throughout the article.
In this article we want to evaluate the current uses of this product, the advantages of using it and the side effects that may appear in some cases.
What is vegetable glycerin?
Glycerin is a product derived from sugar alcohol from plants or even petroleum. In the case that it is vegetable, its origin is purely from plants, especially oilseeds such as soybeans, palm, avocado or coconut, for example.
From this product and under industrial use, you can obtain glycerin, an explosive material used for many years to make explosives, such as dynamite.
When we mix a high-fat vegetable oil together with a strong alkalizing agent, such as bleach or hydroxide, the end result is vegetable glycerin.
Read more: properties of coconut oil
Today, glycerin of plant origin is commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry, in cosmetic products and even in food.
In fact, it is an additive that is added to foods such as yogurt or different ice creams and desserts, for its sweet taste and syrup appearance.
In turn, glycerin is the basis of many drugs, either to regulate circulatory activity, suppositories or remedies against cough and respiratory problems.
It is also a common component in many toothpastes, the use of which is to prevent the paste from drying out or becoming hard inside the tube.
In cosmetic products, it is present in all kinds of soaps, skin lotions, makeup products, deodorants and scented candles.
Properties of vegetable glycerin
Its use is not only given by the conservation value of the products, but there are several scientific studies that corroborate its beneficial properties for the skin and for the organism.
However, vegetable glycerin is not a product that is widely studied, so scientific trials are quite limited and there is still scope for study in this matter.
Moisturizing effect for the skin
An effect fully corroborated by the scientific community is the property of vegetable glycerin to moisturize the skin.
This hydration that it produces on all skin types is given by its content in fatty acids, granting an increase in the flexibility and softness of the epidermis. In fact, it is common for any moisturizer to contain glycerin among its components. [See information adicional]
May improve skin health
In addition to the moisturizing effect discussed in the previous point, its effect against possible irritations or infections has also been studied, improving healing processes and relieving pain caused by burns.
Vegetable glycerin plays a fundamental role in skin hydration, skin elasticity and repair of the epidermal barrier. [See study]
Some of these advantages are as follows:
- Improved hydration of the stratum corneum
- Increased skin barrier function
- Improvement of the mechanical properties of the skin
- Inhibition of the transition of the lipid phase of the stratum corneum
- Protection against irritating stimuli
- Improvement of desmosomal degradation
- Accelerating wound healing
- Antimicrobial effect
In general, plant-based glycerin creates a protective barrier in the skin to curb dryness and the damaging effect that cold or wind creates. Other sources have seen beneficial properties against eczema or the sensation of itching, compared to a placebo. [See study]
May reduce constipation
Another fundamental part of the study is to corroborate the properties of vegetable glycerin when consumed in alime.ntos. Several studies have linked its consumption to the reduction of constipation.
This may be due to the properties of this compound to absorb and attract water (hydrophilic). Therefore, it creates a laxative effect that accelerates the transit of food through the intestine.
In fact, it is the basis of many suppositories that we can acquire in the pharmacy, and they can be more effective than other laxative sources. [See studys]
Glycerin may increase hydration
Consumed as the basis of many sweet foods, it favors the hydration of the organism and increased the conservation of water against the loss due to sweat.
This is especially interesting in athletes and sports professionals who lose a lot of water in the form of sweat (with amounts greater than 2% of body weight, in some cases).
Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration, but it also causes a lot to be lost in the urine. Scientific studies have linked vegetable glycerin to reduced urine and increased conservation of free water in the body.
A meta-analysis concluded that adding 2.3 grams of vegetable glycerin per kg of weight prior to sports practice increased fluid retention by up to 50% compared to water alone.
Possible Side Effects of Vegetable Glycerin
As with most products on the market, even natural ones, there may be conditions that favor the appearance of side effects with vegetable glycerin.
In principle, it is considered by various medical sources as safe, but skin allergies can arise when applied in a cutaneous way in different care products.
In an ingested form, there have been cases of nausea, headaches, dizziness and vomiting, but in a very small percentage of the population.