What does glycerin do to your hair?

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  • 1 Post By Geek_Chic

I think I understand the whole hoopla about prarabens and sulfates, but I notice that certain products also say "glycerin free". What exactly does glycerin do to your hair and why would hair companies feel the need to stress the fact that their products are free of glycerin? Is it bad?
4A/4B FINE/COARSE LOW POROSITY HIGH DENSITY
TRANSITIONED: Since Dec 23, 2010 (I think...)
BC DATE: July 23, 2013 (about 31 months)

7/23/13 :: SL
1/9/14 :: CBL
5/13/14 :: APL


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Last edited by sakiohma; 10-06-2012 at 01:57 PM.
Glycerin is an ok ingredient. If you've recently colored your hair however, you should wait a few days before using a product containing it. Color takes a few days to set, and using glycerin during that period can cause fading. This article should be helpful.

If your hair isn't colored, then the aspect of glycerin to be aware of is that it's a humectant. That means it attracts moisture from whatever is most moist, to whatever is driest. For hair, that means that in dry weather (low dewpoints), glycerin will pull moisture from the hair and into dry air, causing frizz and dryness. In mid-range weather (average dewpoints), that means that glycerin helps maintain a good balance of moisture in the hair, without overdoing it. In warmer weather (high dewpoints), glycerin can pull too much moisture into the hair, causing it to poof and frizz and become overmoisturized.

That's the basic rule of thumb, but there are exceptions. Some people find that their hair plays well with glycerin containing products regardless of dewpoint, others sucessfully use it in high dewpoints (where the "rules" say to avoid it), but can't use it in lower dewpoints.
sakiohma likes this.
CG since 11/2011
2c /3a F /Mii, low porosity

Summer Products /Routine:
Clarifying: ACV rinses, Suave Professional Men Deep Clean Peppermint
Low Poo: Renpure Luxurious Argan Oil
Co-washes: VO5 Kiwi Lime Squeeze or Strawberries & Cream
RO: VO5 KLS or S&C, Cure Care
LI (if needed): VO5 S&C, VO5 SC, Cure Care
Stylers: FSG, AIF,
Tresemme Flawless Curls Bouncy Curls gel
PT: IAGirl's (link) as needed
If you check the dew points in your area (you can check them here on nc.com), it can help you decide when you want to use products with glycerin in them (or that contain other humectants for that matter). For me, I only make a point to avoid using products with glycerin high on the ingredients list when dew points are either really high are really low. Otherwise if glycerin is not too far up on the ingredients list, and dew points are in a fairly wide, "middle range", my hair seems to do just fine. As was already mentioned, different people's hair reacts differently, so you'll probably just have to experiment with your own. Some people's hair really doesn't do well with glycerine, while other people's hair (including mine) doesn't have too much of a problem with it. All part of the fun of being curly!
3b / Fine / Low (to Med) Density / Normal Porosity & Elasticity

Currently Using [*Holy Grails*]
Cleansers: DC No-Poo / DC Low-Poo / *BaSo & ACV*
Co-Washes/ROs: CJ Beauticurls Argan & OO / DC OneC / Organicals DC Creme
Additives: *Silk Amino Acids* / Honeyquat / Fragrance Oils
LIs (found some!): KCKT / CJ Beauticurls LI / CJ Curl Assurance Smoothing Daily Condish
DTs: *Coconut Oil* rinses / *Honey*, EVOO, & DC OneC / CJ Curl Rehab
Sealer: *DM Super Buttercreme*

Goal: APL Hair
I live in Washington state so the dews are pretty moderate year round. When I use glycerin in a leave in or styler my hair feels fine in the morning, but by the end of the day it is tangly and feels like it's coated in plastic. It just feels gross. I can use glycerin in a poo every once in awhile, but my hair is happiest when I am completely glycerin free.
3a, baby fine i/ii, low to normal porosity, protein sensitive
Mod CG since 5/12, from rainy Western WA
dislikes: glycerin, wheat protein
Likes: moisture, Mag Sulfate
Poo: Elucence Moisture Acidifying Shampoo
Cond: CJCR, VO5 Clarifying Conditioner
LI: JC WDT, CJ CR
Style: Loma Curvature Curvy Cream, True Polaris Protein Free Truly curly styling gel (Etsy), Sweet Curls flax seed defining gel (Etsy)
If you check the dew points in your area (you can check them here on nc.com), it can help you decide when you want to use products with glycerin in them (or that contain other humectants for that matter). For me, I only make a point to avoid using products with glycerin high on the ingredients list when dew points are either really high are really low. Otherwise if glycerin is not too far up on the ingredients list, and dew points are in a fairly wide, "middle range", my hair seems to do just fine. As was already mentioned, different people's hair reacts differently, so you'll probably just have to experiment with your own. Some people's hair really doesn't do well with glycerine, while other people's hair (including mine) doesn't have too much of a problem with it. All part of the fun of being curly!
Originally Posted by Devushka
I understand that depending on the few points one may or may not use glycerin. However, what I don't understand is that supposed to be meant only for those who wash their hair everyday? Otherwise you would just be piling an anti humectant on top of a humectant correct?
Plain and simple...glycerin retains moisture in the hair. So depending on the climate you live in or the type of hair you have, it could be good or bad.

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