Update March 2015: Strange twist... I finally saw my (old) immunologist who I trust very much, and without getting into all the details, it turns out that the "allergist" who did the test that led to my supposedly being glycerin sensitive wasn't actually a certified allergist at all. The test that was done was not standard and the reaction was simple skin irritation (not an allergic response). After about 10 months of avoidance, I've started using glycerin-containing products again with no problems.
Delving into the waaaaaay obscure health topics here folks, this probably won't interest most of you. But some of my most obscure and specific health posts are the most viewed ones on here by a long shot, so I know that people are looking for this info. I wished so much that I had access to a post like this, so I spent some time writing it up for whoever is next to be in this sticky situation.
A while back, I attempted to get some allergy testing done, and came out of it not even having had the tests done, and instead labeled with a glycerin sensitivity. I'm going to save all the sordid details of this, maybe for some other time (I still have to go through some further investigations to figure out what's going on), but the long and short of it is that since then I've had to remove glycerin containing products from my life as much as possible. (The only things I haven't found replacements for and am still using are quite ironically my antihistamine pills, Reactine, and cortisone cream. There is a "Cortate ointment" petroleum based alternative, but I don't find it works as well.)
You would not believe how many personal care products, soaps, and medications have glycerin in them, it's RIDICULOUS. Not exagerating, probably 99% or more. It's safe to say I have been slathering myself in copious amounts of glycerin for most of my life - which is hopefully a good sign that my sensitivity isn't terribly severe, but it may have been impacting the overall burden on my body. It's extremely hard to find products that don't have it, and it's not only inconvenient but incredibly expensive, suddenly having to replace everything you own with more obscure and pricier products.
I can't do much about the price, but the inconvenience I can help with! Below is a list of the glycerin-free products I've been able to find - all of them available in Canada (or via mail order to Canada). If you don't see mail order options on the product's site, and can't find it at your local shop, try Well.ca or Vitacost.com - between the two of them you can find most things. Feel free to add to my list in the comments! I also started a Pinterest board of glycerin free products to track products I find, and will continue to add them there as I find more, so be sure to have a look there too!
The following products are free of glycerin, as well as glycerin derivatives, which include:
- mono-, di-, and tri-glycerides
- vegetable glycerine
- propylene glycol
- polyglycerol esters of fat
- E442 (As a food additive)
- guaifenisen (glyceryl guaiacolate)
- glycerinized alcohol
- glycerol monostearate
Soaps for people
Softsoap Juicy Pomegranate & Mango Infusions Body Wash
Super mainstream and from the US, but super cheap and easy to find. Not "natural" by a long shot, but smells good and doesn't seem to cause me any problems. (Note: I boycott those little plastic beads that are poluting the water, but the bubbles/beads you see in this product are a combination of air bubbles and moisturizer beads, which dissolve - they're not the evil plastic beads.)
Some of the other "flavours" of this have the same ingredients aside from the colouring and scents: "Sweet Honeysuckle & Orange Peel", "Citrus Splash & Berry Fusion", and "Tropical Acai Berry" are also glycerin free.
Ingredients (from Colgate.ca):
Aqua (water), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Acrylates Copolymer, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Parfum (fragrance), Sodium Chloride, Sodium Hydroxide, DMDM Hydantoin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea Butter), Zea mays (Corn) Oil, Benzophenone-4, Gelatin, Acacia Senegal Gum, Mica, Punica granatum Fruit Extract, Mangifera indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Violet 2.
Curelle Body Wash - Unscented
Curelle is a local (Vancouver, BC) brand that makes natural hair and skin cleansing products with very few ingredients. Their products may not have the consistency or texture you're used to, but it's because there are fewer additives! I've found it both at an organic grocery store near where I live, and through a grocery delivery service called SPUD.
Ingredients (from SPUD.ca):
Water, decyl polyglucose, sodium cocoyl oat amino acids, sucrose cocoate, xanthan gum, Lonicera japonica, citric acid.
Sliquid is an American company, but I haven't found anyone in Canada making anything comparable. Marketed as a "feminine wash", this is really a great all-purpose soap. It's formulated to be glycerin free for sensitive people, and also so it doesn't feed yeast infections for women who are prone. Only downside is it's a little pricey to use as an all over soap. (Sliquid also makes a glycerin-free shaving cream, but I haven't tried it yet - I just embraced my inner hippie and stopped shaving instead.) Their online shop is a bit burried, so here's the link!
Ingredients (from Sliquid.com):
Purified H2O, Cocoamphoacetate*, Coco Betaine*, Coco Amide*, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Certified Organic Extracts of Aloe Vera, Hibiscus, Flax, Green Tea, and Sunflower Seed, Potassium Sorbate, Essential Oil Fragrances. * Derived from coconut oil
Echosilk Foaming Hand Soap - Wild Berry
This is a Canadian product by a Vancouver-based V.I.P. Soap Products who you might recognize from their biodegradeable dish soaps. I recently found this at the local food co-op and Supervalu, but you may be able to find it at other places that sell their dish soap, or otherwise it looks like you can order their products on their website.
The "Spring Flower" scent has the same ingredients aside from fragrance.
Ingredients (from VIPsoap.com):
Filtered Water, Sodium Coco Sulfate (Coconut-based surfactants), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Potassium Sorbate (preservatives), Natural Fragrance (blend of essential oils), Citric Acid (pH adjuster).
Shampoo and Conditioner
Curelle again. Very basic, natural shampoo. Does the trick, leaves hair feeling residue free but not too sticky. Takes a little extra work to get "lathered" but works well. The "Hydra" shampoo from Curelle is also glycerin free, but has wheat protein so I opted for the Energé. I've found Curelle at a local organic grocer as well as grocery delivery service.
Ingredients (from SPUD.ca):
Aqua/Purified Water; Decyl Polyglucose*; Sodium Coco Oat Amino Acids*; Sucrose Cocoate*; Xanthan Gum; Panthenol; Lonicera Japonica; Citric Acid. * cleansing agents from coconut, corn, coco and oat (No GMO)
Curelle's Trèslite conditioner makes a good combo with their shampoo, my hair feels nice and smooth after use, not sticky at all like it can with some of the "green" shampoo and conditioners. There's also a "Riche" conditioner with slightly different ingredients, not too sure what the difference is.
Ingredients (from SPUD.ca):
Aqua/Distilled Water, Behentrimonium Methosulphate** (Colza oil), Cetearyl Alcohol (non-drying), Lonicera Japonica, Citric Acid, **not related to the sodium or ammonium lauryl sulphate. * indicates Certified Organic Ingredients ** for natural essential oils.
Soaps for dishes and laundry
Nature Clean Laundry Liquid - Unscented
Ingredients (from naturecleanliving.com):
Aqua/Water/Eau, Decyl Glucoside (mild plant derived cleanser), Sodium Citrate (natural water softener), Cellulose Gum (natural anti redeposition agent), Magnesium Nitrate (natural mineral), Magnesium Chloride (natural mineral), Sodium Chloride (table salt-viscosity enhancer), Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (preservative-maintain product freshness and prevents bacteria growth).
Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Powder ZERO
Belgian company Ecover's ZERO dishwasher powder is also glycerin-free (as is the regular scented one). Though I find sometimes it's a bit milder with its cleaning power, still totally adequate and easy enough to find at most health food stores.
Ingredients: Sodium sulfate, Sodium citrate, Sodium carbonate peroxide, Sodium bicarbonate, Disodium disilicate, Sodium carbonate, Sodium polyaspartate, Magnesium silicate, Silica, Sorbitan sesquicaprylate, Sodium carboxy methyl inuline, Subtilisin, Sodium gluconate, Amylase.
Echoclean Dish Detergent - Tangerine
Ingredients (from VIPsoap.com):
Filtered water, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (Plant-based anionic surfactant), Coco betaine (Plant-based surfactant), Alkyl polyglucoside (Sugar-based cleaning agent), Cocoamidopropylamine oxide (Plant-based surfactant), Sodium Chloride (Viscosity modifier), Blend of essential oils (Natural fragrance), Potassium Sorbate (preservative).
Lotion and sunscreen
Badger Balm (balms/salves, sunscreen, and lip balm)
American company Badger Balm is literally the only source I've been able to find for any kinds of moisturizers (that aren't just pure oil) and sunscreens. (Kiss My Face seems to have one too - the Cool Sport powdered spray, but I have yet to find any in Canada.) They've got sunscreen, various balms for skin, and lip balms as well - I haven't actually looked for other lip balms because Badger was already a favourite. Made with beeswax and various oils, waxes, and essential oils. Some products from Badger do have glycerin so you have to be sure to read each for ingredients, but they have a wide selection of glycerin free products. Some personal favourites are:
SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Cream
Ingredients: Non-Nano Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%, *Helianthus Annuus (Organic Sunflower) Oil, *Cera Alba (Organic Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Oil, Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E). * = Certified Organic
SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Face Stick
Ingredients: Non-Nano Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%, *Olea Europaea (Organic Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, *Cera Alba (Organic Beeswax), *Theobroma Cacao (Organic Cocoa) Butter, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Organic Shea) Butter, and Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E). * = Certified Organic
Badger Balm Unscented
Ingredients: *Theobroma Cacao (Fair Trade CertifiedTM Cocoa) Butter, *Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, CO2 Extracts of *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary), *Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn), *Rosa Canina (Rosehip), & *Calendula Officinalis (Calendula).* = Certified Organic
I should seriously buy stock in this company. Various other seed and nut oils work as moisturizer in a pinch as long as you're not allergic.
Lafe's Natural and Organic Roll On Deodorant - Tea Tree
In theory this deoderant from American company, Lafes, is the perfect alternative deoderant. Alas, like many of the other "natural" ones, I seem to react to it, and after using it for a few days I got itchy armpits (I think it's baking soda making me rashy). Comes in many other scents.
Aqua (Water), Potassium Alum (Mineral Salts), Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba* (Guar Gum), Aloe Barbadensis* (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Melaluca Alternifolia* (Tea Tree Oil) Extract, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract, Canabis Sativa* (Hemp) Oil, Coriadrum Sativum (Coriander) Seed Oil, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus* (Clove Bud) Essential Oil
I realize this makes me sound like even more of a hippie, but I just use straight up coconut oil most days. I've ended up with so many weird rashes and fungal infections from the "natural" deoderants I've tried, but plain old coconut oil works like a charm. It keeps me from getting smelly, and controls sweating a little bit - but only a little bit. I use Artisana brand - it's a bit pricier, but I've never gotten a rancid jar from them so far - can't say that for many competitors. Lately I've been adding a few drops of oregano oil and tea tree oil (to control bacteria and body odour) and peppermint essential oil to make it smell nice and less like pizza from the oregano! It's been working well during our current heat wave.
Tea Tree Therapy Tea Tree Toothpaste with Baking Soda
Tea Tree Therapy's baking soda toothpaste is from the US (I have not yet seen it available at any Canadian shop off or online) has become my main daily toothpaste since I've had to foresake my previous favourite. This stuff is pretty good despite being a little hard to find (I have to order it online). Alas, it turns out it must have been the neem rather than the tea tree that was helping keep my gingivitis in check, as after switching, things flared up. But I solved that by using it together with the neem tooth powder (below). Some reviews say this toothpaste tastes weird, but I've been using "natural" toothpastes for a while now and it's fine for me (I think it's the parsley seed that they're tasting).
Ingredients (from Teatreeplace.com): Calcium carbonate, sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, sodium bicarbonate, sodium lauryl sarcosinate, flavor, carrageenan, titanium dioxide, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil, carum petroselinum (parsley) seed oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil.
TheraNeem Tooth & Gum Powder (Mint)
I added this TheraNeem tooth powder (also from the US, no Canadian options!) to get some of neem's wonderful antibacterial power back into my mouth, and despite being a little messy, it's otherwise wonderful and has done exactly what I hoped. I just shake a bit on top of the toothpaste and brush. Ta-da!
Ingredients (from OrganixSouth.com): Xylitol, Sodium Bicarbonate, Supercritical Extracts of Peppermint Leaf, Spearmint Leaf, Neem Leaf, Neem Bark, Anise Fruit and Clove Bud, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Maltodextrin, Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Silica, Natural Flavor, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf Extract, Streptococcus Salivarius K12 (probiotics), Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D-3) Powder.
Branam Go Go Grape Tooth Gel
I ordered Branam kids toothpaste from the US initially because of how great Xylitol is supposed to be for dental health (before I discovered the tooth powder, which also has it). I chose grape as the potentially less offensive option, but one whiff of this stuff and I couldn't even try it - it smelled just like a cough medicine I used to have to take as a kid. That said, I thought I'd include it in case anyone has a kid who's glycerin sensitive and won't do the more "adult" mint/herbal flavour.
Ingredients (from BranamSmile.com): Purified Water, Xylitol (30%), Cellulose Gum, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Flavor, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Mica, Titanium Dioxide.
Makeup and lipbalm
For makeup, there are some options if you look hard enough at the "natural" options. They can be pretty great, albeit expensive. I don't wear makeup often these days anyway, so haven't done a heck of a lot of research on this, but will include a couple things I already had that I like and can still use. On the other hand, I wear a LOT of lipbalm - my two existing faves are happily glycerin free.
A local (to Vancouver, BC) company that makes high quality natural makeup. Not everything from Haut is glycerin free, but several things are! Here are the two products I use - I find them completely non-irritating:
Aloe Cream Tint
Ingredients: Olea europaea (Olive) Oil*, Aloe barbadensis (Aloe) Oil*, Euphorbia anisyphilitica (Candelilla) Wax, Cocos nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Butyrospermun parkii (Shea) Butter*, Elaeis guineensis (Palm) Oil*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Rosa mosqueta (Rosehip) Oil*, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Oleoresin, Azadirachta indica (Neem) Oil, Carnauba-coated Serecite, Zinc Oxide, Arrowroot, Canadian Glacial Marine Clay*, Canadian Glacial Clay, Kaolin Clay, Iron Oxides, Tocopherol (Vitamin E). * Certified Organic
Aloe Loose Tint
Ingredients: Carnauba-coated Serecite, Zinc Oxide, Arrowroot, Canadian Glacial Marine Clay*, Canadian Glacial Clay, Kaolin Clay, Iron Oxides.
* Certified Organic
Like I said, I'm not much of a makeup person, but I love Lippygirl's products (also a local company, based in Whistler, BC). I believe I originally found the company when I started looking for a lip colour that did not have carmine/cochineal in it. Their lipstick is wonderful and non-drying, and also comes in a vegan option. And the minty Lip Love conditioning stick was a bit of an impulse buy, but was one of the best lipbalms I've ever used (and I'm a bit of a lip balm fanatic). Now that I'm looking at the ingredients page, it actually looks like all of their products are glycerin-free, could it be?! Bonus: Darcey seems like a total sweetheart, and keeps a great blog going with tons of extra photos of what the products look like on.
Ingredients: Organic Cera Alba (Beeswax), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Joboba) Seed Oil, Organic Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Vegetable perhydrosqualene, Natural tocopherol (Vitamin E), Vitis vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil. May Contain/ Peut contenir: Titanium oxides, Iron oxides
Lip Love Conditioning Stick
Ingredients: Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Cera alba (Beeswax)*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*, Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus) Oil*, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Calendula officinalis flower extract*
Badger Balm's basic Creamy Cocoa cocoa butter balm is my go to. There are several other flavours, but I'm a purist, and always have a stick of this on me. They also make a sunscreen balm if you're outside a lot.
Creamy Cocoa (aka. plain) Cocoa Butter Lip Balm
Ingredients: *Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, & *Cera Alba (Beeswax). * = Certified Organic
SPF 15 Lip Balm Sunscreen
Ingredients: Non-Nano, Uncoated Zinc Oxide 8%, *Olea Europaea (Organic Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, *Cera Alba (Organic Beeswax), *Theobroma Cacao (Organic Cocoa) Butter, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Organic Shea) Butter, and Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E). * = Certified Organic
Last but not least, lube! Hey, why not? You'd think all lubes would be glycerin free, what with glycerin being a sugar (and hence, feeding yeast!), but apparently not! I've also heard good things about Liquid Silk, but can't vouch for it myself. This one is really the only one so far that has my stamp of approval.
Sliquid Naturals H20
Sliquid, as mentioned above, produces all glycerin free products, so that includes their two lines of lube - the Naturals and the Organics. The "H20" lube is the base for all the other water-based lubes, and is the one geared most for sensitive people. There are a ton of other options (various consistencies, and flavours), so have a look at the other options too. Their online shop is a bit burried, so here's the link!
Ingredients (from Sliquid.com): Purified Water, Plant Cellulose (from Cotton), Cyamopsis (Guar Conditioners), Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid.