Why is Glycerin Bad for you in the Winter?

Hi I'm a longtime lurker coming out of hiding! lol. Some people say that vegetable glycerin will dry your hair out in the colder, less humid climates. However, based on a few articles I've read including one on CurlyNikki's blog, veg glycerin is actually still moisturizing when the weather is cooler and less humid. Here's a quote from the Curly Nikki Blog:
http://www.curlynikki.com/2009/02/ha...-glycerin.html
"Glycerin (glycerine/glycerol - all the same thing) is hygroscopic. This means it draws moisture (water) from its surrounding. It is very good at doing these because it has 3 water attracting groups (known as hydroxyl groups) per molecule (As far as molecules go, this is quite high!). This is the reason why some people say that glycerin is drying which is sort of true but not really. If you expose glycerin to air, it will saturate itself to the point where it does not need any more water. And when you put it in water (which it loves), then it will REALLY saturate itself and will not draw water away from your hair. Therefore, the message is glycerin plus water, is good! While the herbs and essences probably just make the product smell good, the glycerin is the stuff that makes it moisturising.
So who's right?
Your particular hair is right. My hair doesn't do well with heavy glycerin in the winter...I don't use straight glycerin. I always use water-based glycerin products.

Also, it depends (for me) on the ratio of glycerin to water. If gllycerin is high on the list (and based on what else is in it), then I will shy away from it, in the winter time.
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Your particular hair is right. My hair doesn't do well with heavy glycerin in the winter...I don't use straight glycerin. I always use water-based glycerin products.

Also, it depends (for me) on the ratio of glycerin to water. If gllycerin is high on the list (and based on what else is in it), then I will shy away from it, in the winter time.
Originally Posted by NEA
My hair is the same way and I limit it in winter like NEA does. My hair gets greasy feeling and dry with too much glycerin. I haven't forgone humectants all together though. I still use honey, agave, and aloe with good results.
4a/b Texlaxed hair w/ highlights. Medium texture & high porosity.

HG's: CJ Daily Fix, Bobeam Cheris Hibiscus shampoo bar, KC Spiral Spritz, Knot Today, CJ Rehab, KBB LL Hair Mask, Cassia, KCCC, oil blend of Avocado, Camellia, Jojoba, & Meadowfoam oils

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I make sure I seal my glycerin laden products with a heavy oil like castor oil when the hair is damp. When I do that I have no problem using it.

Last edited by shawnyblazes; 11-06-2009 at 08:36 AM.
Your particular hair is right. My hair doesn't do well with heavy glycerin in the winter...I don't use straight glycerin. I always use water-based glycerin products.

Also, it depends (for me) on the ratio of glycerin to water. If gllycerin is high on the list (and based on what else is in it), then I will shy away from it, in the winter time.
Originally Posted by NEA
My hair is the same way and I limit it in winter like NEA does. My hair gets greasy feeling and dry with too much glycerin. I haven't forgone humectants all together though. I still use honey, agave, and aloe with good results.
Originally Posted by afrosheenqueen
+1 I can do glycerin and honey now it's colder but it has to be in a particular ratio and further down the list.
I have put away my glycerin spritz but can use one that contain aloe juice and castor oil with no problem.
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thanks for the responses...another question for you all, how do you know that its the "glycerin" in a product that is drying your hair out if there are other ingredients in the products you use (I am assuming that there are other ingredients in the products you are referring to). Just curious. I read reviews all the time where people will make claims that the "shea butter" in the product caused ____(fillin the blank) or the glycerin caused ____. But then I look at the product ingredients and there are like 20 other ingredients in the product. How do you pinpoint what ingredient is causing a negative effect on the hair?
I know it's the glycerin when my hair was dry and the roots felt sticky. This mostly happens with my glycerin spritz; once i eliminated the spritz I had no more dry hair HTH.
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CurlyKinky21,

You asked.. so who's right ?

Answer: BOTH. Curly Nikki is correct and so are the other folks believe it or not.

You have to keep in mind that humectants like glycerin because of their hygroscopic properties can work by absorption or adsorption.

Explanation:

Like Curl Nikki stated glycerin is hygroscopic. Meaning it takes moisture from the atmosphere. So yes, it can help the hair stay moisturized because it's bringing moisture to your hair. Glycerin is helpful to many people to combat dry hair and glycerin itself is not drying. So when people say, "glycerin is drying"..that's sort of a misnomer. Hence why she says, " This is sort of true, but not really".

In a technical way of looking at it think of it like this: Humectants, like glycerin, can work by absorption (where the substance being collected or removed actually penetrates into the other substance) or through adsorption (where the substance being collected simply sits on the surface).

Curly Nikki, is focused on the ABSORPTION aspect of glycerin in her article. And she's absolutely correct in it.

Now here's why other people are correct about glycerin being "drying" in a sense:

Thought process behind why people opt not to use Glycerin in colder months:

Other people are correct as well though because in the Winter months (and sometimes the Fall) when it gets cold the air often becomes drier and there may be little or what feels like no moisture in the air.

For instance, in your house when it's cold like most of us you probably turn your heat on so it can stay warm. Other places like businesses and schools do the same thing. So those places are constantly being heated and that air can often feel dry. You know how your skin can feel dry in the winter especially when you are inside a very well heated building ? Well it's because of the lack of moisture in the atmosphere you are in.

While glycerin does attract water molecules from the air and help with moisturization, it can be a problem if there is little or no moisture in the atmosphere for it to utilize. If glycerin is in your hair in a drier environment..it's still going to do it's primary function: Draw moisture (attract water molecules). Which means it would be taking the moisture from your hair because it has no other place to get those water molecules from if the air in the atmosphere is particularly dry.

So basically the thinking is: in the Winter months when things seems to get dry inside an environment, if one is using glycerin in their hair and that glycerin doesn't have a steady source of water molecules to attract from the atmosphere..it will "turn" or as some people like to say: "It dries my hair out". Why ? Because glycerin will still do it's job which is to "draw moisture", but it just will draw that moisture from your hair instead of the atmosphere by the process of adsorption instead of absorption. The hair will often feel greasy but not moisturized.

These people are focused on the ADSORPTION effects of glycerin. And they are asbolutely correct to be concerned about it especially in colder months.

So technically, Curly Nikki, and the other folks are both correct in the different uses of logic when it comes to glycerin.

Now here is the catch to all this: POROSITY. Porosity is basically how easily water and other matter can diffuse back and forth through the cuticle layer and into or out of the cortex of the hair.

If you need to know about porosity..check this link:
http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlre...and-curly-hair

Humectants, like glycerin can cause a problem for people with hair that has higher porosity if they are used improperly. For instance, If a person has hair with a higher porosity is using a humectant like glycerin constantly and are around areas where their hair does absorb tons of moisture in excess this can lead to the hair becoming "overly saturated" with moisture. If the hair with high porosity becomes "overly saturated" on a regular basis it can loose it's normal elasticity. That can be a terrible problem because a lot of breakage can occur to the hair when it's manipulated by combing, brushing, rubbing, etc.

So while glycerin is hygroscopic and is great to help with moisture in general.. getting the best benefits from using it in the hair depends on a few things. They are: the proper usage of it in general (meaning knowing when and how to use it), the porosity of the hair (meaning how easily water goes in an out of the hair shaft), and the atmosphere/environment in which it's used (meaning is the air dry, is there a lot of moisture around, etc).





Just wanted to add, be careful with glycerin in dry weather period.
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i love glycerin. i have learned that the stickiness goes away when the weather is cooler/colder but the moisturizing properties remain.
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faves: suave, v05 shampoo, conditioner (my own), raw shea butter, castor oil, peanut oil, aloe juice
How do you pinpoint what ingredient is causing a negative effect on the hair?
Originally Posted by curlykinky21
Thru the process of elimination. My hair pretty much likes everything, except straight shea butter and glycerin when it's cold and dry.

So, if my hair gives a funky response, I can pretty much find the culprit. I check the ingredients and see what's different from what I regularly use (ratios are important, because sometimes it's about how much of something is in a particular product). Sometimes it has to do with how the product is applied, wet vs dry hair, for instance.
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thanks for the responses...another question for you all, how do you know that its the "glycerin" in a product that is drying your hair out if there are other ingredients in the products you use (I am assuming that there are other ingredients in the products you are referring to). Just curious. I read reviews all the time where people will make claims that the "shea butter" in the product caused ____(fillin the blank) or the glycerin caused ____. But then I look at the product ingredients and there are like 20 other ingredients in the product. How do you pinpoint what ingredient is causing a negative effect on the hair?
Originally Posted by curlykinky21
It's just trial and error to try and find the common deniminator. Usually trying an ingredient straight will help you find out what doesn't agree with your hair. That's how I found out about shea and glycerin.

Many products will often have similar ingredients but a few ingredients tweeks here and there that also helps you figure out.
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HG's: CJ Daily Fix, Bobeam Cheris Hibiscus shampoo bar, KC Spiral Spritz, Knot Today, CJ Rehab, KBB LL Hair Mask, Cassia, KCCC, oil blend of Avocado, Camellia, Jojoba, & Meadowfoam oils

SL APL BSL MBL
CurlyKinky21,

You asked.. so who's right ?

Answer: BOTH. Curly Nikki is correct and so are the other folks believe it or not.

You have to keep in mind that humectants like glycerin because of their hygroscopic properties can work by absorption or adsorption.

Explanation:

Like Curl Nikki stated glycerin is hygroscopic. Meaning it takes moisture from the atmosphere. So yes, it can help the hair stay moisturized because it's bringing moisture to your hair. Glycerin is helpful to many people to combat dry hair and glycerin itself is not drying. So when people say, "glycerin is drying"..that's sort of a misnomer. Hence why she says, " This is sort of true, but not really".

In a technical way of looking at it think of it like this: Humectants, like glycerin, can work by absorption (where the substance being collected or removed actually penetrates into the other substance) or through adsorption (where the substance being collected simply sits on the surface).

Curly Nikki, is focused on the ABSORPTION aspect of glycerin in her article. And she's absolutely correct in it.

Now here's why other people are correct about glycerin being "drying" in a sense:

Thought process behind why people opt not to use Glycerin in colder months:

Other people are correct as well though because in the Winter months (and sometimes the Fall) when it gets cold the air often becomes drier and there may be little or what feels like no moisture in the air.

For instance, in your house when it's cold like most of us you probably turn your heat on so it can stay warm. Other places like businesses and schools do the same thing. So those places are constantly being heated and that air can often feel dry. You know how your skin can feel dry in the winter especially when you are inside a very well heated building ? Well it's because of the lack of moisture in the atmosphere you are in.

While glycerin does attract water molecules from the air and help with moisturization, it can be a problem if there is little or no moisture in the atmosphere for it to utilize. If glycerin is in your hair in a drier environment..it's still going to do it's primary function: Draw moisture (attract water molecules). Which means it would be taking the moisture from your hair because it has no other place to get those water molecules from if the air in the atmosphere is particularly dry.

So basically the thinking is: in the Winter months when things seems to get dry inside an environment, if one is using glycerin in their hair and that glycerin doesn't have a steady source of water molecules to attract from the atmosphere..it will "turn" or as some people like to say: "It dries my hair out". Why ? Because glycerin will still do it's job which is to "draw moisture", but it just will draw that moisture from your hair instead of the atmosphere by the process of adsorption instead of absorption. The hair will often feel greasy but not moisturized.

These people are focused on the ADSORPTION effects of glycerin. And they are asbolutely correct to be concerned about it especially in colder months.

So technically, Curly Nikki, and the other folks are both correct in the different uses of logic when it comes to glycerin.

Now here is the catch to all this: POROSITY. Porosity is basically how easily water and other matter can diffuse back and forth through the cuticle layer and into or out of the cortex of the hair.

If you need to know about porosity..check this link:
http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlre...and-curly-hair

Humectants, like glycerin can cause a problem for people with hair that has higher porosity if they are used improperly. For instance, If a person has hair with a higher porosity is using a humectant like glycerin constantly and are around areas where their hair does absorb tons of moisture in excess this can lead to the hair becoming "overly saturated" with moisture. If the hair with high porosity becomes "overly saturated" on a regular basis it can loose it's normal elasticity. That can be a terrible problem because a lot of breakage can occur to the hair when it's manipulated by combing, brushing, rubbing, etc.

So while glycerin is hygroscopic and is great to help with moisture in general.. getting the best benefits from using it in the hair depends on a few things. They are: the proper usage of it in general (meaning knowing when and how to use it), the porosity of the hair (meaning how easily water goes in an out of the hair shaft), and the atmosphere/environment in which it's used (meaning is the air dry, is there a lot of moisture around, etc).




Originally Posted by Marah Mizrahi

Great info. Thanks for clarifying the indoor heating aspect of it. That's pretty much what I mean by drying in colder weather. It's not the temps outside killing me its the heating drying out my home inside.

At work there is not much I can do but at home I use a humidifier. I've also been keeping my heat down this year.
4a/b Texlaxed hair w/ highlights. Medium texture & high porosity.

HG's: CJ Daily Fix, Bobeam Cheris Hibiscus shampoo bar, KC Spiral Spritz, Knot Today, CJ Rehab, KBB LL Hair Mask, Cassia, KCCC, oil blend of Avocado, Camellia, Jojoba, & Meadowfoam oils

SL APL BSL MBL

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