Glycerin vs Hyaluronic Acid: Which One Is Actually More Hydrating?

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Glycerin vs Hyaluronic Acid: Which One Is Actually More Hydrating?

There’s a battle going on that we need to discuss: glycerin vs hyaluronic acid. Previously when talking about skin care, there were a few basic principles we we could always count on: removing your makeup at night will help to avoid breakouts, applying SPF every day is a non-negotiable, and of course, hyaluronic acid is the gold standard for hydrating dry skin. Or is it…?

In a recent Instagram, dermatologist Dr. Natasha Cook shared her belief that glycerin, the lesser-known and far more affordable humectant, deserves hyaluronic acid’s crown. Intrigued? So were we…

Glycerin vs hyaluronic acid

According to Dr. Cook, hyaluronic acid’s rise to popularity began after being used in fillers, touted for its “fabulous long-term effects in elevating, lifting, and hydrating.” However, when the ingredient is incorporated topically, she’s not so convinced: “it doesn’t stand the test of time.” 

When used in skin care, Dr. Cook notes that the hydrator is “broken down really quickly” and “doesn’t moisture bind as effectively as old school ingredients like glycerin and shea butter,” she says. 

What is glycerin and what are its benefits?

Like hyaluronic acid, glycerin is also a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains water to the skin. The ultra-conditioning ingredient works to boost hydration, reduce water loss and as a result, minimise irritation triggered by dryness.

So, why is hyaluronic acid the bell of the ball? And what does it have that glycerin doesn’t? Well, if you’re asking The New York Times the answer is: “a better publicist”. 

So, should we be ditching hyaluronic acid?

No. If you’re a hyaluronic acid purist, don’t stress. According to Rodan + Fields, there’s still a place for both ingredients in our routine. “Go for glycerin [when you’re] looking to add moisture, bounce and balance.” And when you’re wanting to “lock in [any existing] hydration,” that’s when you should reach for the hyaluronic acid.

In summary? Hyaluronic acid will maintain hydration, while glycerin will actually improve it. Very interesting indeed…

Glycerin skin care products we recommend…

CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion PM

“My face soaked up all the moisturizing lotion and has left my skin feeling supple and soft once applied and once I wake up in the morning. It has also alleviated my redness especially on my cheeks.” – miramarmari

$22.99, Chemist Warehouse

Want to know more? Read CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion PM reviews here…

Kenkay® Sorbolene Cream with 10% Vegetable Glycerin

“I like it best as a moisturiser where it applies easily, isn’t sticky and works to keep skin soft and moisturised. It is also incredibly economical in price. I love this product and will continue to buy it. I thoroughly recommend it!” – Frenchy

$5.99, Amcal

Want to know more? Read Kenkay® Sorbolene Cream with 10% Vegetable Glycerin reviews here…

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser

“It does a great job at removing the dirt and oil from my pores whilst leaving my skin feeling soft, hydrated and refreshed after use! I bring this product with me everywhere and don’t see myself changing my cleanser any time soon. Such a great product!” – Kate Giddy

$27.95, Adore Beauty

Want to know more? Read La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser reviews here…

CLINIQUE Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

“This gel has a light, hydrating texture that melts into the skin to leave it feeling smooth and plump, but definitely not greasy.  I find a bottle lasts me ages as you don’t need to apply a lot to get instant hydration and smooth skin.” – Dramsay82

$50, Adore Beauty

Want to know more? Want to know more? Read CLINIQUE Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel reviews here…

Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Serum

“I am very happy with the hydrated skin – I am 57 and this has been a game changer for me during the day – I am left with that after a yoga session dewy skin.” – Audrey22

$154, Rodan + Fields

Want to know more? Want to know more? Read Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Serum reviews here…

Main image credit: @laraworthington

Do you use any glycerin skin care products in your routine? If so, which ones do you love?

Share your thoughts

Comments 44

  1. Thanks BH for such an informative Article on Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid, have heard from L’Oreal that there Hyaluronic Acid Serum will help get rid of dark circles under your eyes. Certainly will be trying it out in the next month to see if it actually works.

  2. Glycerin has been in skincare products for ages. It gives products a little bit of slip and slight tackiness and my skin loves it. It’s found in many moisturisers, serums, hydrating toners. I even have a bottle of 100% vegetable glycerin to use in my DIY skin care/body care/hair care.

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