When looking at the ingredients list on the back of your hair and beauty products, you may notice that glycerin is often present. However, it’s not always clear what type of glycerin is used and whether it is in fact vegan. In this article, we are going to explore what glycerin is and how to know if glycerin is vegan.
So, is glycerin vegan?
The answer is both yes and no as there are two types of glycerin. One is made from animal fats and is not considered to be vegan. The other is derived from coconut or soybeans and is vegan friendly. While vegetable glycerin is more commonly used in food and personal care products, some products may contain the non-vegan kind.
To know if a product is vegan, it should either state it contains ‘vegetable glycerin’ or it should display a symbol on the packaging.
What Is Glycerin?
Glycerin, also known as glycerine and glycerol, is a non-toxic liquid that has a sweet taste.
There are two types of glycerin. One is derived from animal fats and the other is known as vegetable glycerin, which is often derived from coconut or soybeans. It can also be made synthetically.
Glycerin is present in a range of food products as well as personal care products. You will often find it listed on the ingredients list of soap and hair products.
Why Is Glycerin Used In Hair Products?
Glycerin is a humectant, which means it can absorb water from the atmosphere.
This is added to hair care products to aid in moisturizing the hair and prevent it from becoming frizzy and drying out too quickly.
It works by locking in moisture in each hair strand, resulting in fewer breakage and brittle strands. You can think of it as a protective layer around the hair, keeping it locked in place.
It can be extremely effective for curly hair because the moisture will help to maintain the natural curl pattern and prevent it from becoming limp.
Furthermore, when glycerin is added to hair products it can reduce itching and dandruff.
This is because it returns moisture to the hair follicles and the scalp. That’s why you will often see it listed as an ingredient on anti-dandruff shampoo bottles.
When used in combination with other ingredients such as tea tree oil and peppermint, it can be highly effective at treating dry, itchy scalp.
What Type Of Products Contain Glycerin?
Glycerin is added to shampoo, conditioner, soap, cleansers, sprays, and more.
As mentioned above, it contains many benefits for both hair and skin. You may find it listed as an ingredient in many curly hair products and dandruff shampoos.
This is due to glycerin’s moisturizing properties – it restores hydration to the hair and helps reverse damage.
The stronger and healthier the scalp is, the stronger the hair strands will be.
Is Glycerin Vegan?
One of the questions that are frequently asked is an important one. ‘Is glycerin vegan?’ Well, the answer is not as straightforward as you may want it to be.
Of course, glycerin that is derived from animal fats it in no way vegan, since it comes from animal products.
Vegetable glycerin, on the other hand, is 100% vegan. While there is some confusion surrounding vegetable glycerin and whether it is a better alternative, it is clear that many people reap the benefits.
Vegetable glycerin can help soften the hair, control frizz, and prevent breakage.
How Can I Tell If A Glycerin Product Is Vegan?
It’s not always clear to see which hair products contain vegetable glycerin. Often, ‘glycerin’ will simply be listed as one of the ingredients.
Unfortunately, it often does not specify which type of glycerin. This can be an issue for vegans or people who want to avoid glycerin derived from animal fats. One way of finding out is to simply look for a vegan symbol.
Many brands will do their best to make it clear if their product is vegan, while others do not. You could email or phone the company to make an inquiry as to what glycerin is included in their products.
This may be the only way to get a clear answer. If this does not answer your question, it is best to avoid the product entirely.
If you are specifically looking for vegetable glycerin because you are interested in the benefits then you can find it at a lot of retailers such as Amazon.
This one from Naissance contains only 100% pure vegetable glycerin so you know exactly what you are getting.
There are no chemicals or any harmful ingredients added to this product – it is completely natural.
It can be used to treat dry, damaged hair or skin. It’s also suitable for all hair and skin types.
How To Make A Vegan Glycerin Spray For Your Hair
It’s easy to make your own spray using pure vegetable glycerin and it can be a more affordable method in the long-term.
A little amount goes a long way, so once you’ve made the spray it will last for a long time.
THINGS YOU WILL NEED
Naturally, your hair will respond differently to various oils, so choose one that you benefit from the most.
Olive oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil are some common choices.
Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin and 1 tablespoon of your chosen oil to a cup of distilled water. Transfer to a spray bottle.
This liquid can be used as a conditioner or a leave-in spray, depending on your hair type and preference.
If using as a conditioner, simply spray it all over your hair after shampooing. Massage it into the scalp thoroughly as this will help to moisturize it and prevent flakes.
Leave it to sit in the hair for up to 5 minutes before washing it out with cool water. Ideally, let the hair dry naturally.
Using a glycerin spray frequently can help to restore moisture to damaged, brittle strands.
This can be very effective if you have a history of using chemical dyes on the hair as it can aid in restoring the hair to a better condition.
It can also prevent weak, split ends in the future.
When Should You Avoid Glycerin?
- You should avoid glycerin if you are unsure whether it is vegetable glycerin or derived from animal fats
- If you live in dry climates with low humidity
- Your hair is chemically dyed (it can cause the color to fade)
- You have previously had a reaction to glycerin
If you struggle with any of the above, try using any of these glycerin-free hair products instead.
Are There Any Side Effects To Glycerin?
When used topically, pure glycerin does not present many side effects.
Synthetic glycerin is more likely to cause a reaction as it’s not a natural product.
However, these side effects may be minimal and vary from person to person.
Generally speaking, glycerin is safe for most people to use. But it is recommended that you still carry out a patch test first before applying all over the hair and skin.
Simply put a small amount on the wrist or behind the ear and observe if there is any redness, itching, or bumps.
If there is, you may need to avoid products containing glycerin in the future.
Another thing to note is that glycerin is not suitable for all environments.
When used in dry environments, it can actually pull the moisture out of your hair and leave it dry and damaged. This is due to the fact that glycerin is a humectant.
Therefore if you are living somewhere with low humidity, it is best to avoid any products with glycerin added to them.
Alternative Vegan products To Use Than Glycerin
As it can be very difficult to know if a product contains vegetable glycerin or glycerin made from animal fats, it may be better to avoid them entirely.
Usually, if a brand creates vegan products, it will be clearly stated on the bottle. If there is no information, this could be because the product is simply not vegan.
And while some brands will claim that their products are ‘cruelty free’ that does not mean that it is vegan. And vice versa.
You may need to do some further research on the company before you buy their hair products.
When looking for both vegan and cruelty-free products, it is advised to seek out brands that are transparent about this.
Love Beauty and Planet is a great example of a brand who make their values obvious from the start.
The clue is in the name! All of their products state on the packaging that they are vegan and cruelty-free for peace of mind.
Their Volume and Bounty Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner are good choices for maintaining curls and keeping the hair hydrated.
Love Beauty and Planet’s products contain a 93% natural formula that mostly consists of coconut water and mimosa flower. As it’s paraben and silicone-free, it’s suitable for those with sensitive skin.
Another brand that is very clear about the values and ingredients is Artnaturals. Their argan oil shampoo and conditioner are sulfate and paraben-free and gentle on curls. It is also vegan, cruelty-free, and ethically sourced.
This is made clear from their packaging. The gentle formula will thoroughly hydrate the scalp and hair strands and make hair more manageable.
It’s designed to also be gentle on color-treated hair, so it can be used without the fear of it stripping the hair.
There are some brands that may show up when searching for vegan, cruelty free hair care products.
But on closer inspection of the bottle and packaging, there is no mention of the product being vegan.
This does not mean that it isn’t vegan, but it may still be best to avoid it. If there are any doubts, do not hesitate to contact the brand to seek a clear answer.
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