Which means is used for the skin

Glycerine: miracle cure for skin, hair and household?

Whether as a care product or cleaning agent: glycerine is versatile and has been a tried and tested home remedy for decades. But is it also harmful to the skin? And why is it in food?

Glycerin is a widely used ingredient in cosmetics and cleaning products. In industry it is often used as a lubricant and plasticizer. But the substance is also increasingly used in food. What you should know about glycerin.

What is glycerin?

Many cosmetic and cleaning products contain glycerine. It is an odorless, colorless, sweet-tasting sugar alcohol and is produced, among other things, during the saponification of fats and oils for making soap. Glycerin is also known as glycerin or glycerol.

Glycerine: Glycerine, here in solid form, is also used to make soaps. (Source: Glycerin / Getty Images)

Most products contain glycerin from animal products. However, it can also come from plant sources, for example in the production of biodiesel. Coconut oil or palm oil can also be a vegetable source of glycerin. If the substance is obtained synthetically from petroleum, it is called ultra-pure glycerine. It is mainly used in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Glycerine is not harmful in small amounts. However, if more than 50 milliliters of the liquid is consumed, it can lead to headache and kidney pain as well as to a state of intoxication. If applied undiluted to the skin, it can cause skin irritation and severe irritation.

Glycerine is available in pharmacies, among other places. The price per 100 milliliters is around 2.50 euros.

Glycerin in cosmetics

Hygiene: Both solid and liquid soap contain glycerine. (Source: Dimitris66 / Getty Images)

The cosmetics industry uses glycerine as an additive in creams and ointments because of its moisturizing properties. It is said to help against dry, cracked and itchy skin by penetrating the skin and additionally laying on the surface like a slightly oily protective film. In this way it prevents the moisture from escaping from the skin and supports the fact that more moisture can be absorbed. The skin appears smoother, healthier and remains elastic. Glycerin has the same moisturizing properties when used on hair and is therefore a common component of many shampoos and hair treatments.

Cosmetics: Glycerin is considered to be moisturizing. (Source: Wuka / Getty Images)

But glycerine is not only supposed to prevent drying out of skin and hair. It is also used as an additive in toothpastes, gels, and creams as a humectant. This keeps them soft and usable.

However, many experts criticize the moisturizing properties of glycerin: it binds moisture and thereby dries out the skin in winter. Since there is not enough moisture in the air due to the dry heating air, glycerine removes it from the body or the connective tissue. The upper layers of the skin remain soft, while the lower layers of the skin dry out and lose their elasticity, according to the critics.

Toothpaste: Glycerin makes toothpaste supple. (Source: Bet_Noire / Getty Images)

Detect too much glycerin in products

Glycerine is contained in almost all cosmetic products. It is only harmful if the proportion is higher than above ten percent. Because only then does it dry out the skin. A value between three and five percent is ideal.

Many manufacturers do not note the content of the individual substances in the product. However, if it is at the top of the list, the proportion is very high. The further below the ingredient is mentioned, the less it contains. That means: Glycerine should be listed as far back as possible in the list of ingredients. Usually it is in the third or fourth position. It is assumed that the proportion is then around ten percent. If you want clarity, you should check with the manufacturer directly.

Glycerin in detergents

Cleaning: When cleaning windows, glycerine helps to avoid streaks. (Source: AlexRaths / Getty Images)

Glycerin has been used as a cleaning agent for several decades. The agent is especially known for the pretreatment of stubborn stains such as grass, coffee and tar.

A little glycerin in the cleaning water for the windows prevents the panes from tarnishing or icing up and dust or pollen from sticking to them. Rainwater also bounces off better after cleaning the windows with glycerine. In addition, you can use it to clean and maintain your tiles in the bathroom: After the treatment, no more water stains form on surfaces and limescale or dirt can no longer deposit.

Glycerin in everyday life

Car care: Glycerin prevents the windshield washer fluid for the car from remaining clear even in frosty conditions and the washer fluid from freezing immediately. (Source: Milan Krasula / Getty Images)

Glycerine is also used in cars. Among other things, it is contained in the brake fluid as a lubricant and in the antifreeze for the windshield wiper system.

So that rubber seals do not become porous, but remain elastic and soft, you can rub them with glycerine. Remember, however, that the fabric is slightly oily and can build up on other objects.

To prevent your glasses and mirrors from fogging up, you can rub with glycerine. Then buff everything with a leather rag. As with the window panes, this means that dirt and water are better repelled.

Glycerine can leave an oily film. Talk to your optician to find out whether your glasses have already been treated with an appropriate repellent layer.
If you still want to protect your glasses with glycerine, you should polish them intensively until no residues can be seen.

Household tricks with glycerin

There are several ways that glycerin can make household chores easier:

  • For example, add a few drops of glycerin to the water of cut flowers or your Christmas tree. This kills bacteria and prevents the plant's pores from clogging.
  • The softening properties of glycerine can not only be used for your skin and hair. Your wool sweaters or blankets will also be softer again by adding a few drops during the washing process.
  • Another trick that glycerin can make the household a little easier is to rub it on the inside walls of the defrosted freezer. This should slow down the freezing of the freezer compartment and make defrosting easier later.

Glycerin in foods

The food industry also uses glycerine as an ingredient. It is often listed under the designation E422 in the list of ingredients and is also used here to maintain moisture. It is particularly often used as an additive in meat products, chewing gum and dates. Glycerin is also found in some sweeteners.

Glycerin in medicine

The pharmaceutical industry often uses glycerine in the form of suppositories for constipation or hemorrhoids, among other things. It softens the bowel movements and also stimulates the bowel movement.

Another form of administration are, for example, ear drops. Among other things, they are prescribed for itchy and painful irritation of the ear canal.