Make Your Own Glycerin Skin Moisturizer

I love learning new things from my readers and fellow bloggers. I received a very helpful comment from a reader after I did my post on how to make a Homemade Hot Oil Hand Treatment.  The comment was from Kathryn who is author of the blog This ‘n That From on the Mountain. She wrote to share her recipe for a good skin moisturizer that she loves. Here’s an excerpt from her comment:

“We live in the mountains in CA. It is very, very dry here. I’ve found the most wonderful moisturizer after much looking and agonizing. The original recipe is simple: 1 part vegetable glycerin (I usually do 1/2 cup) to 4 parts distilled water (2 cups). Mix. Put in a spray bottle. If you find it a bit sticky, add a bit more water”.

Kathryn went on to say that she has also used aloe vera juice for most of the liquid part, and that you can add an essential oil for some fragrance too. She also wrote that:

“My dry skin issues are all resolved since I began making this about 2-1/2 years ago. I keep some in the tub and spray it all over after my shower.”

Well, I was super intrigued by this. My skin tends to be dry and winters here in Michigan are long and pretty drying on the skin. Sometimes in the coldest parts of the winter when my skin feels all chapped and dry, I use to resort to putting straight vaseline on my hands before bed. This glycerin spray recipe sounded like a great alternative to that approach and I decided to give it a try.

Homemade Glycerin Moisturizer

The Key Ingredient: Glycerin
The most challenging part of this recipe for some folks might be finding the glycerin. I already had some glycerin in the house, but I remember on that shopping trip I had to hunt around for a while to locate it. I was able to find it in the pharmacy area of my local store (Meijer) nearby things like witch hazel and bandaids. A 6 oz bottle cost $3.27.

Glycerin is a clear syrupy liquid that’s made by combining liquid and fats derived from vegetable oil. What’s cool about glycerin is that it has water binding capabilities which allow it to draw and absorb moisture from the air which in turn can help skin retain moisture. The label on my little bottle of glycerin calls it a “skin protectant” and a “pure natural skin softener”.

Here’s what I did (Just remember it’s one part glycerin to four parts water).

HOMEMADE GLYCERIN SKIN MOISTURIZER

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup glycerin
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • A few drops of essential oil (optional)
  • A spray bottle or mist bottle

Combine the ingredients in the spray or mist bottle (I very much prefer the mist bottles), and then shake gently to mix. Spray on and rub to smooth it over skin.

* Update: Click here to read about my updated Rosewater version of this glycerin spray.

The Results
So far I’m really liking this mixture! After spraying it on my hands and massaging it in, my hands felt really soft. I didn’t find that it was too sticky or greasy either. I think this recipe is a keeper!

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81 Comments

  1. I actually have dry skin too, and it make me uncomfortable sometimes. Thanks to this I will try it now. I have all the ingredients at hand.

  2. I live in Northern California and have been doing this for years. Vegetable glycerin (food grade) is super well priced too. I get vegetable glycerin from amazon for less than $8.00 and that bottle lasts me well over a year. And I use it religiously! I take a 360 Hair Spray bottle and add water with a few drops of the vegetable glycerin and add a few drops of jojoba oil and lavender essential oil — ITS AMAZING. I have sensitive dry skin and this is a life saver. Sometimes I will add in Aloe Vera, especially during summer. My skin eats it up and makes my skin feel so good.

    So happy you found that it worked for you as well!!

    Best,
    Sarah
    @itssarahclark -IG
    itssarahclark.com

    1. This mixture should have a very long shelf life because of the distilled water that you use. It takes me several months (sometimes almost a year) to use up a batch and it always stays fine during that time.

  3. The effectiveness of ‘plain ol’ tap water’ depends on where you are. Most is likely fine, but i moved fro an area where our tap water was spring water with no additives (HEAVEN!!) to a place where lord ONLY knows what’s in that stuff. I use distilled water for my DIY cleaning supplies and any ‘leave on’ cosmetics. (Among other things – my tap water is very good at leaving water spots) – I also used tap water that has sat over night with a stick of bamboo charcoal for making wild ferments and drinking. Otherwise – tap water it is.

  4. I just mixed food grade glycerin baby oil and to take away the sting and pain from over use of my acne medicine skin and for do it myself anti aging cream I did add a tiny bit of blistex moisture melt and that worked my skin not as dry and irritated now skin on face and under eyes . Night number tow apply twice a day or as needed.

  5. My grandmother was born in Prussia in 1861 and when she came to America in 1880
    She would have the chemist (druggist) mix glycerin and ROSE WATER this is the
    Correct recipe.

    1. Many of the “make your own” strategies we’re rediscovering today (like this glycerin spray) have their roots in things that previous generations were doing. Mixing glycerin and rose water is a very good example.

    2. Rose water is the classic! I’ve found that any hydrosol (floral/herb water) that is good for your skin type works. Lavender seems to come 2nd in popularity. I find straight-up hydrosol to be too strong a scent and too expensive. I use one part hydrosol to 3 parts distilled water. But that is all a matter of taste, purse, and how strong your hydrosol smells.

  6. I Mix glycerine with aloe vera gel and Tee tree oil for my Dry and acne prone skin. I use it AT night as moisturizer and sleeping Mask. IT help to my clear my acne and acne scars.

    1. Did you use aloe vera gel from the plant or store bought in a container? Also how long did you use until you saw improvements in your skin?

  7. Hi I love this page and I am here with a question. Can this be an effective moisturizer in the hair on your head?

  8. Thank you for posting this I will definitely try it.
    Also glad you found it for yourself….using Vaseline actually only makes you more dry because it prevents moisture from getting into your skin. It basically covers you with pure mineral oil which you can tell by running your hands under water after applying it. When you do that you will see the water just bead up on your skin and sit there…it will never penetrate the oil.
    The way to make mineral oil (just so you know where it comes from)
    1. Get gasoline from any pump
    2. Put the gasoline in a glass beaker and heat with a bunsen burner
    3. Separate the liquid from the solid part of the gasoline
    4. Put a candle wick in the solid that was left after separating
    5. The drips from that self made candle…from the gasoline that was heated and separated…is now mineral oil. Definitely not something you want on your skin and as I said above it actually makes you more dry.

    Best to avoid any products with Mineral Oil and SD40 alcohol because both dry you out.

    1. Thank you for posting this; I was concerned about her using Vaseline as well. No one should use petroleum products on their skin. Most cheap lip balm contains some form of petroleum.

    1. You can use this spray instead of moisturizer. When I use it, I just use it by itself without any other lotion.

        1. Yes, I use this on my face too. I usually squirt some on my fingers first and then apply it to my face. I find this a little easier than trying to squirt it directly on my face.

    1. I always use this spray up within three to four months and it does not grow moldy during that time. However I also always use either filtered water or distilled water which will prevent any mold from growing too.

  9. I have been reading through the comments and l am really exited to try out and make some of these fab products..

  10. I will like to make sugar scrub adding glycerin, do I had to add water to the recipe? and how much glyceryn in a recipe? thanks Osiris

  11. Your can purchase vegetable glycerine from soap and cosmetic suppliers.

    In the U.S., there’s a company called MakingCosmetics (add a dot com after that to find their site), New Directions Aromatics and several others.

    There’s also a site called ‘NowFoods’ in the U.S. that sells vegetable glycerine for $50 a gallon, but I’ve no idea whether that’s the best price for it out there – you’d have to do some googling to shop around and see if you can find a better price.

    The stuff sold in drug stores tends to be pharmaceutical grade, so some of the goodies can often be removed before it hits the shelves.

    I prefer to buy the organic, vegetable variety in bulk, especially as I use so much of it – it’s worth it for me to buy it in bulk.

    As for bugs and mold and whatnot, whenver I make products at home that involve water and humectants, I always include a preservative – usually Liquid Germall Plus (available from places like MakingCosmetics and New Directions Aromatics – just to be on the safe side.

    If anyone’s interested, Susan Barclay-Nichols over at her swiftcraftymonkey blogspot is a veritible font of knowledge on making skin and hair care products at home, explaining everything in great detail with research to back it all up, which anyone can do themselves.

    I learned everything I know from her so I’m sure some of you will no doubt get lost in her site – I know I could spend days reading it and lose track of time entirely lol

  12. I love this, but after 2 weeks I have what appears to be mold in my mist bottle. I didn’t use any essential oils, but followed the recipe exactly besides that optional part. Anyone else had this happen or know how to prevent it? Thanks in advance for the help!!

    1. Using filtered water should help prevent mold. You can also try distilled water to help prevent any mold. Another option is to keep it in the refrigerator, but of course then you’ve got some very cold moisturizer to spray on yourself which is not very comfortable unless it’s a very hot day.

    2. I know these comments are old, so hopefully you all are better informed. If you use glycerin and water distilled or filtered it doesn’t persevere it at all! At best toners/ mists are best made every few days to prevent mold. If you don’t want to do that then you have to add a persevative for it to last longer. My source is Michelle from Labmuffin beauty Science she has a PHD check out her blog and YouTube channel…..stay safe people

    1. I think if you use aloe gel it might have too thick of a texture to spray well. If you really wanted to add some aloe gel, you will probably want to either use just a very tiny amount so that it is still a thin mixture that will spray, or switch to a pump type bottle instead.

        1. That’s a pretty good idea! It should be fine to add a bit of Vitamin E oil to your the glycerin/water mixture.

        1. It can be any kind, however almost all glycerins that are sold are vegetable glycerin, even though it’s not always obvious on the labeling.

  13. Great recipe! Do I need to refrigerate this Glycerin Skin Moisturizer? I live in a tropical country so, do you think the heat can deteriorate this moisturizer?

    1. It can’t hurt to refrigerate this product, however then you will have to spray yourself with cold moisturizer, which if you live where its warm and tropical might not be all bad! If you leave it out at room temperature, make sure you use distilled water or purified water of some type to keep bacteria from growing in the water used in the mixture.

    1. A mister bottle squirts out a much finer spray that a spray bottle. A spray bottle will have a larger and more direct stream that it shoots out of the nozzle

  14. Hello. I bought glycerin from a drug store and it just says glycerin. Is this the same as the vegetable glycerin?

  15. I’ve been looking for this post in pinterest to pin & can’t locate it. Sorry, I’m new to all this. Thanks!

  16. Hi Bev, Thanks for this article on glycerin. I’m looking for something that will help my granddaughter’s extremely dry itchy skin. I’ve been studying EO’s lately, but this looks more affordable & something simple even my 7 yo granddaughter can do.Will this aid in the healing, do you think? Thanks for the post.

    1. Hi Linda – yes, I think this glycerin spray could help your granddaughter’s dry skin. I get very dry skin in the winter too and it’s helped me a lot. My husband finds this works better for his dry hands than lotions! What I notice the most is that the effects of the glycerin spray seem to last longer. I don’t have to reapply it as often as lotions.

  17. Thanks for this great post! I order propylene glycol (for perfume making) off Amazon and I was so excited when the box arrived today. I opened it, read the label, and realized they’d sent me vegetable glycerine by accident 🙁 Since I’m fairly new to natural products, all I knew about VG was that it’s in the soap I buy from Whole Foods haha. So I started some research, and made my own mist after reading your article. I add tea tree oil and lemon essential oil to mine. It smells great, moisturizers my skin better than I expected, and it’s a bit more expensive than what I actually purchased!

    This morning, my legs were so dry I could see scratch marks when I would scratch an itch. This mix completely changed that!

    1. Sorry, I don’t know how to make glycerine from scratch. Not sure if it’s even possible to make it on your own without specialized equipment.

  18. You can buy a gallon (10 pounds) of food grade vegetable glycerin on ebay for $35.00 with free shipping. Considering Wal Mart charges $3.99 for a 4 ounce bottle, this is a tremendous savings.

  19. Great comments and thanks for the ideas. I have used the recipe with the change of using organic rose water. Love it love the scent. Going to try out other floral waters for a change,and personalized gifts.
    Found both ingredients on Amazon.

  20. I have been adding GLYCERIN to my (store bought) lotions for yrs now. I mix it with plain EUCERIN (in the bottle – NOT the jar) and use as a facial moisturizer. Works as good as the more expensive creams. Altho’ mine does not have any anti-aging properties… you could always alternate with a different cream at night.

  21. This works perfectly for me. I spray it on my hair after washing and my face and neck. Just a quick light spray makes my naturally curly hair shine and my skin looks moist. I used the 1:4 ratio, just glycerine and spring water.

  22. Love this!! Amazon has a quart of glycerin for <$12, they have smaller containers, but not as good of deal. Makes great gifts if you have a selection of oils on hand; which is what I'm doing with my quart of glycerin. I use 2 parts glycerin, 2 parts aloe vera gel, 3 parts distiller water. I screwed up the measurements the first time I made it, but like the results, so I've kept with it. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  23. Would also like to make my own home made moisturizing skin lightener. Would adding lime or lemon to this glycerine moisturizer do that for me or totally defeat the purpose? Thanks

    1. Yes, I use this spray on my face and it works well there too. Sometimes I find it’s a little easier to spray it on my hand first, and then rub it on my face.

      1. Of course it’s possible to make glycerine. Here is a very simple recipe from Mother Earth News. It uses olive oil and coconut oil.
        http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/old-school-beauty-making-glycerin-zbcz1304zold.aspx

        Another thing a person can do is rub their skin with coconut oil directly. I do that after bathing and it works very well. I never put it on my face however. It’s very helpful for those of us in the West where its very, very dry.

  24. Thank you for the recipe. I love glycerin moisturizers but never thought about making it. The hand hot oil treatment looks good too. So glad I found your blog!

  25. Thank you for the recipe. I love glycerin moisturizers but never thought about making it. The hand hot oil treatment looks good too. So glad I found your blog!

  26. I am still liking this glycerin moisturizer too. I did find that a mist bottle works better for applying it to your skin than a spray bottle.

  27. I got a bottle of this from the same Kathryn last year and it's all I use. Of course I ran out of hers and now make my own. I use it every morning and night. I use less glycerin though.