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If you wish for shiny, hydrated hair, you’ve probably tried all sorts of conditioners and hair masks. Maybe you’ve wondered about ingredients that could actually pull moisture into the hair, keeping it hydrated from the inside out.

The good news is that glycerin is deeply hydrating for hair, if you know how to use it. We’ll break down the facts here.

Glycerin is good for hair that’s curly, thick, or frizzy, though it can be beneficial to all hair types.

It’s helpful for damaged hair and may condition well enough to stop breakage. Hair will appear to grow faster because it’s not breaking off at the ends.

According to a 2017 study, glycerin can improve skin barrier function and keep skin more hydrated for up to 24 hours.

Glycerin can also condition a dry scalp. When used as a leave-in treatment, it can help lessen dandruff, according to one study.

It won’t actually make stronger hair grow out of your head, but it’ll condition and strengthen your existing hair so that it’s shiny and less prone to split ends.

Note that if you live in a dry climate, glycerin may actually draw moisture out of your hair and into the air.

On the flipside, if you live somewhere humid, glycerin will continue to draw moisture in from the air and can make your hair look puffy.

Glycerin works best in moderately humid climates.

Glycerin is derived from plant oils (like shea butter or coconut oil), animal products, or petroleum.

While it’s actually a sugar alcohol, it looks like fat. When it comes to hair, glycerin is a humectant, meaning it can actually pull in moisture from the air, keeping hair hydrated and healthy.

It’s common ingredient in both skin and hair care products because it’s so effective. It’s also colorless and scentless, so it won’t alter the smell or look of a product. It’s affordable and appears in products of every price.

Glycerin is safe to use on hair. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates glycerin as an A on their scale, meaning it isn’t an ingredient of concern to human health or the environment.

That said, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Don’t use glycerin on cracked or broken skin.
  • It should be mixed with water or other oils, or else it’ll make hair greasy and sticky.
  • When using heat styling tools, use glycerin sparingly, as it conducts heat well. It may intensify the heat from the tool and cause damage to the hair shaft.

There are different ways to use glycerin, depending on what your hair concern is. If you want to make a DIY mask or hair spray, you’ll need to buy pure glycerin, which is available at many online retailers, drugstores, and beauty stores.

Making a mask with aloe vera and glycerin (more on that below) will hydrate and nourish the scalp and can help alleviate dandruff. The combination may offer antimicrobial and hydrating properties.

Tip for use

For curly hair, use a glycerin-containing product on dry hair to get the best results.

Healthline

Glycerin hair spray recipe

You can make a glycerin hair spray by combining:

  • 1/4 cup glycerin
  • 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup rosewater
  • Two to three drops essential oil, like peppermint oil or rosemary oil (optional)

You can spray it on wet or dry hair as needed.

If you’re interested in making a DIY hair mask with glycerin, you can try one of these three great masks below.

Rosewater and glycerin hair mask

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1/2 cup rose water
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) glycerin

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and apply to dry or slightly damp hair. Leave on for 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly.

You can also put this mixture into a spray bottle and spray a small amount as needed.

Aloe vera and glycerin mask

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
  • 1/4 cup glycerin

Stir the aloe and glycerin together until they’re blended and apply in sections to dry or slightly damp hair. Let the mask sit for at least 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Honey and glycerin hair mask

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cups honey
  • 1/4 cups glycerin
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. After towel drying your hair, apply the mask to the hair in sections, then let sit for 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

If you still feel the mask is in your hair, you may need to lightly shampoo and condition again.

If you’re trying to avoid glycerin — perhaps you have a glycerin allergy or you live in a climate where glycerin won’t work in your favor — be aware that glycerin is readily used in products and sometimes goes by other names.

Other names for glycerin

You may see glycerin displayed on a label as:

  • glycerol
  • 1,2,3-propane
  • alcool glycériné
  • glicerol
  • glucerite
  • glycerin
  • glycerine
  • glycérine
  • glycérine végétale
  • glycerol monostearate
  • glycérol
  • glycerolum
  • glyceryl alcohol
Healthline

If you want smoother, stronger hair but are avoiding glycerin, you can try using the following ingredients. They’ve also been shown to help strengthen and moisturize hair and may help it grow faster.

Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it pulls in moisture from the air to deeply hydrate the hair. It’s colorless, odorless, and relatively inexpensive, so it’s in many store-bought products. It can be purchased on its own if you’d like to make a DIY hair mask or spray.

Studies have shown that glycerin can help ease dandruff, moisturize the scalp and hair, and help prevent hair from breaking.