Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Age old remedy for skin: Glycerin

A smidgen of glycerin a day, may keep the wrinkles at bay

Looking at the ingredients list of most skincare items, glycerol or glycerin makes frequent appearances. For good reason it looks like it. A cheap ingredient that acts as a humectant, to draw moisture to the skin to maintain hydration and maximising skins barrier to environmental onslaught.

I did a quick research on available literature regarding topical application of glycerol to skin and the findings are reassuring. Cosmetics industry have long capitalised on this simple compound and at times charged a hefty sum for what can be bought over the counter in a pharmacy next to nothing. Obviously, a pot or tube of moisturiser mixed with other skin saving blue chip ingredients will cost a pretty penny. It may just be that the effect of having a humectant to maintain skins water level may be adequate to stave off the ravages of time and other skin insults.

As I type this, I have applied a layer of glycerol to my skin lightly, the hydration was instant and the skin has a luminescence akin to having splashed with water ( or drunk 2 litres per day). It also has a subtle highlighter look to it ( Becca Shimmering skin perfecter beware, you have competition lady!)

Just a bit of research if you are interested, majority of the tests were done on lab mice ( I am not happy with this fact) but it is here on public domain. One of the published articles in the Science Daily in 2003  showed that topical glycerol improved dry skin conditions in lab mice with induced skin conditions.

Another publication of a study in Germany (published 2011) showed that a combination of Creatine, Guarana and Glycerol demonstrated a reduction in wrinkles in Human Male subjects. This study can be seen here.This study's focus was on creatine, but utilised gylcerol as a potential carrier.

Majority of clinical studies are for dermatological conditions. Cosmetics company have capitalised on this and extrapolated compounds used in these studies to mainstream skincare items. You could ask why is something used for psoriasis going to work on my ' just sort of kind of' dry skin. Good question, so is questions like ' what is super anti-aging ingredient EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) ?' and 'how does it work in a moisturiser?'

The answer to this truthfully is that we ( those of us in the science and clinical world) do not quite know as it is still in its infancy. But, selling expensive creams based on research that is poor or still in early stages is exploitative.

Now, back to glycerin, despite all the science talk above, topical glycerin ( glycerol) have long been used in skincare going way back when.

MS loves science and don't mind trawling through clinical data since it is part of what I do. Nothing interests me more when a piece of study done properly to exacting standards of research criteria shows effect (positive or negative). After all, science is science, it is about the truth.

I think there is some more work to be done here, but nevertheless that the idea of a £1 bottle of Glycerol can solve a myriad of skin issues clinically and cosmetically is wunderbar! I have one with me now and intend to experiment with it solo or in combination with other products.

One word of advice, it takes some trial and error to get the right amount without the skin looking an oil slick.  But at night, for face massage, it is ideal..


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