Glycerin is a common ingredient that’s added to so many hair products today, but do we really know what it’s used for and if it’s suitable for all hair types? Although we’re often told positive things about the clear substance, there’s still a question that remains unclear: is it the solution to frizz-free hair?
There are so many products on the market that claim to control dry, frizzy curls but so few of them back up their claims. So, could glycerin be the answer? In this article, we’re going to discuss whether glycerin helps to eliminate frizz.
In effect, using glycerin on your hair will help to control and reduce frizz. When used in the right conditions, glycerin works by absorbing moisture from the air and retaining it, resulting in hair that appears less frizzy and more manageable.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Picks for Glycerin Hair Products
(All products in this article are Curly Girl Approved)
Now, let’s take a look at what Glycerin is and why it is so effective.
What Is Glycerin?
Glycerin is a clear, odourless liquid that is added to supplements, hair and beauty products, and more.
There are two types of glycerin – natural and synthetic.
Natural glycerin derives from plant sources such as coconut and soy, while synthetic glycerin derives from petroleum.
Now, synthetic glycerin isn’t necessarily bad for you, but there is a chance that it won’t work as well as natural glycerin.
When choosing a product containing glycerin, read the label carefully and try to find out if there is the natural or synthetic kind added to it, as this can make a huge difference to the outcome of the hair.
Benefits of Using Hair Products with Glycerin
Hair products that contain glycerin are typically very moisturizing because glycerin is a humectant, meaning it pulls water from the atmosphere or the skin and locks it in place.
When added to shampoo products it’s known to smooth frizzy hair and reduce the risk of breakage.
Glycerin contains anti-inflammatory properties which can help to control an itchy, dry scalp and dandruff.
When diluted so it’s not too potent, it can be used as an overnight treatment to prevent itching and troublesome flakes.
Simply apply it to the scalp by massaging it in with your fingertips and leave it on overnight.
You can buy easily buy glycerin online and we prefer Viva Naturals which we got from Amazon.
It is 100% pure vegetable glycerin and USP certified.
After applying glycerin, you should wash it out in the morning with a gentle sulphate-free shampoo like the As I am Curly Clarity Shampoo.
This is particularly helpful during the colder months when hair and scalp are prone to dryness.
Stimulates Hair Growth
Glycerin is a great substance to speed up hair growth, as it helps to moisturize while preventing the hair from breaking and drying out.
Naturally, the healthier the hair is, the quicker it will grow.
Helps Repair Damaged Hair
As glycerin attracts moisture, this helps to nourish and condition individual strands, preventing the hair and scalp from becoming dry and damaged. In effect, glycerin smooths down the hair cuticles, which reduces frizz and flyaways.
This is a great product for those with dry, coarse hair that struggle to obtain moisture.
Prevents Split Ends
As you know, split ends are a result of weakened, brittle, frayed hair that’s been exposed to weather damage, heat, rubbing with a towel, and using the wrong kind of products.
Trimming the ends certainly helps but you’ll want to avoid recurring split ends by using the right products.
Glycerin can be used regularly on the ends of your hair to avoid them from becoming too dry and splitting.
Helps to detangle
Glycerin’s thick consistency allows hair strands to glide past each other easily, leading to manageable detangling and less friction.
Curly hair is susceptible to knots and tangles, especially when the hair is wet and fragile. Using glycerin regularly can therefore lead to fewer tangles and less breakage as a result.
What Kind of Hair Products Contain Glycerin?
There are a range of hair products on the market that contain glycerin, including shampoos, hair masks, leave in conditions, and creams.
We’ve listed a few favourites below:
Does Glycerin Eliminate Frizz?
Although glycerin is effective at treating frizz, it must be used in the right conditions.
When used in moderately moist conditions, it works by absorbing moisture from the air and retaining it. In turn, this keeps hair feeling moisturized, hydrated, and it even helps to define natural curl pattern.
It’s highly effective when used on dry, coarse hair, or hair that is damaged from excessive heat, as it returns lost moisture to each strand and leave it feeling noticeably softer.
However, if glycerin is used in the wrong conditions then it can have the opposite effect, resulting in further damage to the hair.
When Should You Avoid Using Glycerin On Hair?
Glycerin is a natural substance that is usually fine to use on all hair types, but let’s look into the reasons why it’s not always sensible to use glycerin on your hair.
High Humidity Weather
Unfortunately, glycerin isn’t suitable for all conditions.
If the environment is drier than the hair itself then this can result in the humectants releasing moisture from the hair back to the air to create a balance.
The conditions have to be just right for the glycerin to work. Therefore, in dry climates with low humidity, you would expect the glycerin to draw out moisture from the hair and leave it feeling dry and unmanageable.
In these environments, it’s best to avoid using glycerin entirely.
If You Suffer From Moisture Overload
Moisture overload can cause breakage, split ends, and hair that lacks volume.
As glycerin is mainly used to lock in moisture, this could have a negative impact on the hair and result in hygral fatigue, which is a hair condition that you need to avoid.
Getting the balance right is hard, so for the time being it’s best to avoid using any products containing glycerin until you’ve overcome the issue.
If You Use Heat Appliances On Daily Basis
Glycerin transfers heat to the hair very easily, which can result in further breakage and damage to the hair shaft.
Be extra cautious when using with heat appliances and ensure you combine it with a non-glycerin containing protective moisturizer for improved results. Also, use glycerin sparingly when testing it on the hair to see how it reacts.
If You Use Non-Permanent Hair Color
Those with freshly colored hair should avoid using glycerin in the first few days because this is when the hair is more susceptible to colour loss.
Glycerin has properties that can dissolve dye molecules, resulting in hair that fades very quickly and potentially unevenly.
For this reason, it might be best to avoid using it on semi-permanent hair colour.
Side Effects to Using Glycerin on Hair?
Fortunately, not many side effects are reported, as glycerin is a natural substance that doesn’t often cause extreme reactions following use.
However, there are some reports of allergic reactions when glycerin is applied directly to the skin.
Here is a list of some of the other reported side effects to look out for:
Due to the small risk of these side effects, it’s always recommended that you begin trialing the glycerin by using a small amount on the hair and scalp.
We would suggest diluting with another liquid before applying it directly to the skin, as this minimizes the risks of any negative reactions.
How to Use Glycerin
Now you’re aware of the benefits of using glycerin on curly hair, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can add it to your hair routine.
Use a shampoo containing glycerin
A simple but effective method of adding glycerin to your hair routine is to switch to a different shampoo.
There are many shampoos that contain glycerin as one of the main ingredients. Try our favourite, the Aunt Jackie’s Power Wash Intense Moisture Clarifying Hair Shampoo. This is Curly Girl Method approved and contains no sulphates or drying alcohols.
Use a serum
Instead of replacing your shampoo, you can opt for a hair serum instead.
Try the As I Am Long and Luxe Scalp Serum which is enriched with Biotin, Aloe Vera, and Saw Palmetto.
After using shampoo, just add a small amount to your hair and leave it in, ensuring that your curls stay moisturized all day.
Try a DIY hair product
Glycerin works best when diluted with other liquids and essential oils.
If you would prefer to make your own natural hair product then it’s very simple to achieve that.
Here are some recipes that will leave your hair feeling soft and healthy.
Leave-in Hair Spray #1
- Add ¼ distilled water, 2 tbsp aloe vera juice, 2 tbsp glycerin, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp coconut oil and 7 drops of essential oil such as lavender oil to a spray bottle.
- Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed and spray the homemade solution onto damp hair that’s been freshly washed.
- Let it dry and style your hair as usual.
Leave-in Hair Spray #2
- Add 4 ounces of rose water, 1 tsp glycerin, 1 tsp argan oil, 1 tsp aloe vera gel and 6 drops of essential oil to a spray bottle and shake thoroughly.
- Spritz the mixture from the root to the tip and leave to dry. Rose water is highly effective when combined with glycerin; this mixture will help to soothe dry, frizzy hair and lock in moisture.
- Add ¼ castile soap, 3 tbsp coconut milk, 2 tsp distilled water, 3 tsp glycerin, and 10 drops of lavender oil.
- These ingredients need to be mixed on medium heat for 5 – 7 minutes before being left to cool completely.
- When the solution has thickened, it can be transferred to a container or bottle.
This homemade shampoo is very gentle on the hair and it will definitely help with any recurring scalp irritation or dryness, however, it will not lather up like other shampoos.
It still cleans the hair very effectively, and it can work out more affordable over time. It’s also free of chemicals and preservatives so it will be sure to leave the hair feeling soft and looking healthy.
- Add 2 tsp vegetable glycerin and 2tsp aloe vera gel to a container and mix it thoroughly so it forms a kind of paste.
- Apply it all over the hair and leave it to soak for 5 minutes before rinsing it off.
This can be used on dry, damaged hair either after shampooing or once a week to prevent frizz.