Is glycerine good for curls? It’s in a huge amount of curly hair products, but what is it and what does it actually do?

What is glycerine?

Glycerine is a fragrance-free, clear thick liquid.

It can be derived from plants, animal products, or it can be synthetic.

The most important feature of glycerine is that it acts as a humectant.

In short, this means that it draws moisture towards it. In terms of haircare, this means that glycerine can draw water from the surrounding air toward your hair.

glycerine is a clear liquid

Why is glycerine in so many hair products? Is glycerine good for curls?

In the right conditions (more on that in a sec) glycerine can help keep hair moisturised. It is also cheap and its colourless, odorless nature means it can be added as an ingredient without having too much of an effect on the product.


It can moisturise your hair and scalp

Helps reduce breakage by improving the condition of your hair

Should glycerine ever be avoided?

The only time that it would be advisable to avoid glycerine is if you live in a dry climate with low humidity. In this case, the glycerine may move moisture away from your hair and into the surrounding air. (Humectants work by moving moisture to where it is needed).

In the same vein, if you live in a very humid climate, you may wish to avoid glycerine because it will draw large amounts of moisture toward your hair, causing strands to swell. This swelling can cause frizz and even long-term damage.

glycerine in hair products

Which hair types can benefit?

In a moderately humid climate, all hair types can benefit from glycerine although dry hair will benefit eh most.


Don’t use neat glycerine. If you are making a DIY product, make up a solution of glycerine with water or oils as it is too heavy on its own.

Be wary if you are also using heated tools because glycerine conducts heat well. This can increase heat damage to your hair.

Alternative names for glycerine

Alternative names that you might see include:



Any ingredient containing the above words.

Best products containing glycerine

Glycerin can be found in a number of curly hair products, but here are a few of my favourites and their levels of glycerine:

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Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly (High)

Imbue Curl Energising Hydration Serum (High)

Color Wow Dream Coat for Curly Hair (Moderate)

Aveda Nutri-Plenish Leave-in Conditioner (Moderate)

Curlsmith Feather-light Protein Cream (Low)

Lauren xx