Pictured: Gena Marie with Curlsmith Bonding Oil

Glycerin, the ubiquitous ingredient listed on many of our hair product labels, is found in both plant and animal fats and can be manufactured synthetically as well.

What does glycerin do to hair?

This humectant can help keep your curls moisturized by drawing water into them in optimal temperatures of 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit. In humid conditions, for example, in the middle of July when it’s hot and sticky, it can attract too much moisture into your hair which will cause it to swell and frizz.

Conversely, in drier environments, like those warmed by forced air heating in the winter, glycerin will remove moisture from your hair and deposit it into the air.

It can be difficult to know when to use glycerin-containing products, and many curlies have opted to ditch them altogether.

How do you know if you need to avoid glycerin?

If you are not sure if glycerin is a friend or a foe, try avoiding it for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference in the health of your hair. 

Here are some important facts to know about glycerin:

  • High-porosity hair tends to be very sensitive to glycerin’s effects, particularly in desert or hot, damp climates.
  • Glycerin has the ability to open the hair shaft. This makes it a good ingredient for shampoos that are followed up with a conditioner. You should avoid it as an ingredient in a sealing serum.
  • If glycerin is not listed as one of the top five ingredients in a product, its effects are generally minimal in most situations. 

If you do find that your hair feels healthier without glycerin, the products below will help you select your new (or rediscover some old”> favorites as replacements.


glycerin free product

1. Curlsmith Bonding Oil

If you love the shine-enhancing and smoothing properties of oil but you do not want the flat, greasy look that can easily wreck your washday, this lightweight formula is just what you need. With its blend of plant-based ingredients such as Plantsilk™ and vegan keratin, your curls will finish sleek and strong.


2. Jessicurl Stimulating Scalp Massage Oil

Invigorate your scalp and your senses with this blend of oils that promotes healthy hair growth.


3. Curls Curl Ecstasy Hair Tea Deep Conditioner  

Impart your strands with body-building botanicals that leave them stronger and less prone to breakage.


4. Alikay Naturals Co-wash Me Cleansing Conditioner

If you want a cleansing conditioner that gets your hair clean and leaves it soft without weighing it down, this is the perfect cleansing conditioner for you.

5. K18 Leave-in

This four-minute leave in reconnects the keratin chains in the innermost core of your strands leaving them silky and less prone to breakage. K18 seals the hair shaft, too, to keep your curls frizz-free.

6. Kalahari Smoothie Leave-In

Just say no to knots and tangles with this rich, hydrating leave-in with plenty of slip.


7. Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave-in

Knot Today is a great choice for those curlies who need a detangling agent with lots of slip. It’s also the perfect pick for protein-sensitive curls.

8. BeLola Intense Hydrating Mask

If your curls are calling for some TLC, this mask will help restore them. With its gorgeous grapefruit-rose scent, and its rich, creamy consistency, BeLola is luxury in a jar.


9. The Earthling Co. Shampoo Bar

If you want to cut down on plastics in your home and in the environment, this bar can help you do it while leaving your hair and scalp clean and fresh.


10.  Kinky Tresses Coconut Mango Hair Butter

This water-based product works as both a moisturizer and styler. Unlike many butters, it does not cause build-up.


11. Uncle Funky’s Daughter Glossy Finishing Hair Gloss

Lots of hair-loving, moisturizing oils join forces to give your curls and coils shine with maximum hydration for a finished style that lasts.


12. Curl Junkie Spiral Lotion

Curl Junkie offers several glycerin-free options to beautify your curls and coils. This creamy styler is moisturizing without being too heavy.


13. Alaffia Curl Reviving Tonic

Gentle on hair and scalp, this tonic contains calendula extract and aloe and will restore your washday curls with just a few sprays.


14. Qhemet Biologics Tea Tree & Lavender Therapeutic Pomade

Besides providing shape and shine to your style, this pomade can sooth your scalp with calming lavender and tea-tree essential oils.


15. Oyin Handmade Hair Dew

This vanilla-cookie scented favorite is a rich, luxurious leave-in that leaves your curls moisturized and soft.


16. Pura D’or Apple Cider Vinegar Thin2Thick Shampoo

Get rid of the build-up that can weigh-down your curls and irritate your scalp with this body-building shampoo.


17. Evolvh Ultimate Styling Lotion

What is better than a multiple-use product? This medium-hold styler adds sheen, calms frizz, and gives you great curl definition. Bonus: it can be used on both wet and dry hair.


18. Camille Rose Naturals Coconut Water Style Setter

This creamy hair gel will hold your set, and invigorate your senses.


19. Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution

There is a reason Confident Coils is often touted as a favorite in the curly world: it is a fabulous styler. It also comes in scented and unscented versions.


20. TGIN Honey Whip Hydrating Mousse

Raw honey and agave nectar help to give this lovely mousse it’s moisturizing properties. For luscious, soft curls, coils, and waves, this mousse is your next must-have.


Do you have a favorite glycerin-free product that you want your curl community to know about? Let us know in the comments.

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