If you’ve heard about glycerin for natural hair, you’re probably confused about whether you should use it on your natural hair. Many naturals swear by it, but others hate it.
Glycerin is a viscous humectant which quickly draws moisture from the air into your hair. But it can only be used in certain environments, and that’s where the confusion comes in.
In this article, you’ll find out all about glycerin’s benefits and uses. Then you can decide whether you want to experiment with glycerin on your natural kinks and coils.
Benefits of Glycerin
Glycerin is a simple polyol compound found in hair and skin products. It is also known as glycerol and glycerine, and it is used in many industries. Beauty manufacturers typically add the ingredient to products because it softens and conditions hair and skin.
It is odorless, thick, clear, and generally regarded as non-toxic. It is also water-soluble, making it easy to add to your shampoo and conditioner bottles or to use in DIY recipes. Water-soluble simply means it dissolves easily in water.
Here are the benefits of glycerin in hair products:
- Moisturizing. Glycerin hair products tend to be good moisturizers. Glycerin attracts water from the air and into your hair when used in the right conditions. See below about humidity and when to use glycerin.
- Scalp Repair. Glycerin can be useful for nourishing and repairing your scalp’s follicle cells, making it excellent for use in cases of alopecia, psoriasis, and dandruff. Be sure and mix the glycerin with other scalp-healing ingredients if you decide to use it on your skin. Undiluted glycerin could raise a blister on the scalp and cause further problems.
- Defines Curls. Glycerin helps to draw in moisture to curls and clump them together better when it’s not overly humid outside. It will give your curls great definition on days that are not too wet and not too dry.
- Length Retention. Wondering about glycerin for hair growth? Glycerin doesn’t exactly stimulate the hair follicles, but it does help to retain length, so you can keep the hair you’ve been working hard to grow.
- Affordable. A bottle of glycerin is inexpensive in comparison to many natural hair products, and it will last you a long time because you are only using a tiny amount. It’s an inexpensive way to improve the health of your hair.
How to Use Glycerin for Hair
Using glycerin isn’t complicated once you know how, but there are some precautions you should take if you’re thinking about buying a bottle of pure glycerin.
Follow these guidelines:
- Never Use Glycerin Undiluted. Glycerin is highly humectant and can absorb all water from the surrounding environment. So, if you were to apply glycerin to your hair without water, it would leach all of the water from the cortex. Likewise, apply it undiluted to your hands, and it will quickly draw water from your body and form a blister.
- Check the Weather First. Pay close attention to the humidity level of your city. You may end up removing all the water from your hair’s cortex if you use glycerin when it’s too dry outside. And if it’s too humid, you can draw in too much water, resulting in frizzy hair that takes too long to dry.
- Experiment with Different Amounts. Some products have glycerin listed at the beginning of the ingredient label, and others have it listed toward the end. If you notice your hair not responding well to climate changes, it could be because of the amount of glycerin used. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing with glycerin. Try experimenting with different amounts of this ingredient during different times of the year.
- Don’t Use Glycerin as a Heat Protectant. Limit glycerin if you’re planning to heat-straighten your hair. Glycerin transfers heat well, and it can cause your cortex’s water to boil when you use it with heat styling tools.
How to Mix Glycerin and Water for Hair
You should always use glycerin with water. Using it undiluted can cause the glycerin to draw water from your hair. Glycerin is a water-soluble ingredient, so mixing it with water will dilute it best.
Use a small amount in a water spray bottle. Distilled water works well because it softens hair better than regular water, and it won’t grow mold.
The amount to use varies, depending on where you live and how much your hair likes glycerin. But try experimenting with one part glycerin and four parts water. Then you can add more later if needed.
Also try using aloe vera juice as a substitute for water. Aloe is packed with amino acids, enzymes, and nutrients to feed your hair shaft. The aloe vera juice and glycerin combination will be very moisturizing and highly nutritious for your tresses.
Rosewater and glycerin is another common mixture. You can make this combo by using rosewater instead of distilled water.
How to Apply Glycerin on Hair
Looking to use glycerin as hair conditioner or as a glycerin hair spray? It must be mixed with water. You can use it with distilled or rose water, and you can add it to your water-based products.
Use a water spray bottle for an easy application if you want to make a DIY leave-in conditioner or detangler.
Spray your water-glycerin mix on your hair whenever your curls need to be refreshed. You may even want to use glycerin and jojoba oil in your bottle for softening your hair during the week.
You can also add it to your store-bought products if you want more glycerin in your regimen. Squeeze a small amount into each shampoo, conditioner, or styling product, and shake or stir to mix.
Glycerin for Natural Hair in the Summer
Using glycerin on natural hair in the summer can work if your city’s climate isn’t too dry or humid. In fact, it’s impossible to create a straight rule of thumb for glycerin and the seasons.
For instance, some climates have extremely dry summers, where brushfires occur. And other places are sticky and humid in the hotter months of the year.
And you’ll find the same circumstances with the winter season. Some winters are cold and dry, while other places are chilly and rainy.
So, you’ll have to create your own regimen based on how your hair behaves in your climate. You’ll benefit from glycerin if you live in a climate that is not too dry and not too humid.
What Kind of Glycerin for Hair?
There are three major types of glycerin: Synthetic, vegetable, and animal-derived.
- Synthetic glycerin. Synthetic glycerin is petroleum-based, and you’ll find it in food, pharmaceutical drugs, and nutritional supplements.
- Vegetable glycerin. Vegetable is the best kind of glycerin to use for hair. It is derived from plant oils like palm, soy, or coconut oil. It is usually safe to consume, unless it is derived from GMO plants.
- Animal Glycerin. Glycerin can be animal-based. It is not inherently toxic, but it can be a problem if you’re trying to limit your consumption of animals. Unfortunately, most beauty manufacturers don’t normally list the type of glycerin they use, but you can look for a vegan label on the bottle.
So, what is the best glycerin to use on your natural curls? Vegetable glycerin from non-GMO plants is the best glycerin for use on your hair and body.
Looking for an even more natural alternative to glycerin? Try honey. It is like glycerin because it is a humectant, but it is all-natural.
Want to know where to buy glycerin? Find it at most health food stores or online. Older products like lime cream and glycerin will be hard to find, but pure vegetable glycerine is widely available. Look for a non-GMO vegetable glycerin like Essential Depot or Now Foods.
Glycerin can be a useful ingredient to use for moisturization and length retention if you know how to use it right and you follow the rules of science.
What about you? Do you use glycerin for natural hair or do you tend to avoid it?