- Glycerin has been used on hair since the latter part of the 19th century. It can be derived from vegetable or animal fats and even petroleum. Vegetable-sourced glycerin is used mostly now because it is inexpensive and readily available. Vegetable glycerin is extremely versatile; it is soluble in alcohol and water, common commercial hair product ingredients. It is in some shampoos, conditioners, styling gels and sprays and can be used on its own.
- One of vegetable glycerin’s most notable roles is as a humectant. Humectants are used in products to attract and retain moisture, resulting in supple and resilient hair that looks and feels full. Because vegetable glycerin pulls water from its surroundings, it is an effective moisturizer when used in a diluted form. It is especially good for dry, frizzy or brittle hair. In addition, it may help to alleviate dry or flaky scalps.
Curly Hair Tamer
- Many curly-headed people are fond of vegetable glycerin because it is a natural and simple way to reduce frizz while maintaining curl. As part of a product or on its own, it adds moisture to curls, resulting in greater flexibility and definition. If used on its own, it should be diluted because too much creates an oily, weighed down effect on hair. Some people mix it with water, oils, aloe Vera juice and even honey to create a homemade hair spritz.
- Because vegetable glycerin is extremely effective in transferring heat, care should be taken when using a hair dryer, curling iron or other heat styling tool. In those cases, vegetable glycerin may be applied in small amounts and not on its own. Care also should be taken when using vegetable glycerin in dry climates because it pulls moisture from the hair instead of the environment, causing a drying effect. In that situation, it may be used in combination with other moisturizing agents or avoided altogether.