Author's Note: Glycerin is a unique and versatile chemical with numerous applications; to adequately cover all of the aspects of this compound in a short column would be impossible. Therefore, this column will highlight some key facts about glycerin, but interested readers are encouraged to pursue further, more comprehensive reading on the ingredient.
Next to water, glycerin is the most common ingredient employed in the formulation of cosmetics, personal care products and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and the manufacturers of these products have been the leading consumers of refined glycerin for more than two decades.2–4 According to the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP), the use of glycerin has been documented in 11,972 cosmetic products, second to water, which was reported in 26,241 cosmetic products.5–6
Glycerin’s long history of use and outstanding safety profile make it one of the most trusted chemicals in the industry; indeed, the FDA recognizes glycerin as a Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) ingredient, and glycerin derived from natural sources is listed as exempt from REACH in Annex V(9). In addition to being a critical excipient in the formulation of cosmetics and OTC drugs, glycerin may also be employed as an active ingredient in anorectal, laxative, oral health, ophthalmic and skin protectant drug products when used according to the FDA’s US OTC monographs for these categories.7–8