We Offer Small Batch Manufacturing and Due to High Volume of Orders, Lead Times are Longer Than Usual.

Vegetable Glycerin: How This Underrated Ingredient Benefits Skin & Hair

May 08 2024 – Essential Labs

Vegetable Glycerin: How This Underrated Ingredient Benefits Skin & Hair
Vegetable Glycerin: How This Underrated Ingredient Benefits Skin & Hair

Glycerin is a quiet, unsung hero in hair and skincare products. It's found in most cosmetic products, but it rarely gets featured as a key ingredient. Vegetable Glycerin could really be considered a foundational ingredient for building hair and skincare products, and is the non-synthetic version of standard glycerin.

Powerful humectant properties draw moisture into the skin and hair and form a barrier helping to retain moisture. Thus hair and skincare products with glycerin are designed to moisturize and smooth so our hair and skin look its very best.


What is glycerin?

Glycerin is an organic compound made from vegetable oils. It's a thick, odorless, syrupy liquid with a sweet taste that easily dissolves in water. A complex extraction method known as hydrolysis is used to create glycerin. It can be made from natural products such as vegetable oil or can be synthetically made--much of it is made using palm oil.

Although there is no difference chemically between vegetable and synthetic glycerin, Essential Labs only uses and sells Vegetable Glycerin.


Is glycerin sustainable?

Indie beauty sellers and buyers are understandably concerned about any palm sourced ingredients. Many palm farming practices have devastating effects on our rainforest habitats, and on our environment as a whole. While palm can be unavoidable as a beauty ingredient, we are dedicated to ensuring that our palm based products are created as ethically and sustainably as possible.

Our vegetable glycerin is sourced from a palm oil vendor with the highest sustainability rating in the industry, using local farmers working their land, carefully processing the raw fruit and kernels, and capturing the methane gas produced and recycling it. Their supply chain model ensures that 100% of their physical products come from RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified materials. They are also a member of POIG (The Palm Oil Innovation Group), a multi-player group dedicated to adopting responsible palm oil manufacturing practices throughout the supply chain by promoting and innovating methods to make palm production more sustainable.

Is glycerin drying?

Glycerin is known as a humectant, meaning that it has the ability to draw moisture from the air into hair and skin. But it can work the other way as well. If you live in a very dry climate with less than 70% humidity, it can actually make hair dry. Because of its strong humectant properties, glycerin will pull moisture from the most abundant source, so in a dry climate, it may pull moisture from your hair creating dryness. While it can have this effect on hair, it's not exactly true for skin.

There are many factors which prevent glycerin from drying the skin, unfortunately, due to FDA rules we can't discuss the exact science here but good scientific, peer-reviewed reports on glycerin and its effect on the skin will explain in great detail the science behind why glycerin is so beneficial to skin.


How to use vegetable glycerin in skincare

As we discussed, glycerin helps draw moisture in as a humectant. It is also an emollient, helping to soothe and protect in a similar way that your skin's natural sebum does. It's often found in lotions, creams, toners, shampoos, conditioners, and more. Check out a few examples here. Because of its soothing properties glycerin is appropriate for use with sensitive skin--both oily and mature skin can benefit.

Vegetable Glycerin is soluble in water and alcohol, so should be used in the water phase of formulas. It can also replace alcohol in herbal and botanical tinctures. Although it can be used as a preservative at 50% or higher, it makes any product very sticky at this level. It is typically used at 2-5% in emulsions, but any higher can also result in stickiness, depending on the formula. It is created by adding alkalies to fats and oils.

Recipe for mega antioxidant vitamin C serum with vegetable glycerin

Antioxidants are by far the best for helping skin look radiant and youthful. We’ve taken the antioxidant-oxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid and combined it with the skin loving and antioxidant benefits of Vitamin C and ultra-hydrating Vegetable Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid to make a mega antioxidant Vitamin C serum!

Difficulty: Intermediate
Yield: Approximately 1 Pound
Approximate cost of ingredients per ounce: $6.28

Equipment You’ll Need

Mixing bowl
Stick Blender
Stove top


0.0102 LBS          1%                       Hyaluronic Acid Powder
0.1227 LBS          12.27%                Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
0.0389 LBS          3.88%                  Alpha Lipoic Acid
0.8180 LBS          81%                     Orange Blossom Distillate
0.0080 LBS          0.80%                  Vegetable Glycerin
0.0102 LBS          1.023%                Phenoxyethanol


Suggested Packaging: 1 ounce airless pump or treatment pump

Suggested Retail Price: $40- $60


  • Mix together Orange Blossom Distillate and Glycerin to 140F (60C)
  • Slowly add MAP while mixing with your stick blender. Mix until fully dissolved.
  • Slowly sprinkle in Hyaluronic Acid while mixing with your stick blender. Be sure to sprinkle slowly to prevent any clumping.
  • Once fully mixed, add Phenoxyethanol to preserve.
  • Apply to skin after cleansing and toning. Follow with a moisturizer.

Please note that this recipe has not been challenge tested for preservation efficacy. If you use this recipe for market sales, it is up to you to ensure the safety of the product. We strongly recommend 3rd party challenge testing to ensure product safety.

If you are ready to add glycerin to your beauty line? Shop our conventional vegetable glycerin offerings, and check out of finished products to find a variety of beauty products boosted with our sustainable glycerin.