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Liquid Paraffin vs. Glycerin — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Published on October 10, 2023
Liquid Paraffin is a mineral oil used as a laxative and skin moisturizer, while Glycerin is a sugar alcohol used in skincare products and as a sweetener.
Liquid Paraffin vs. Glycerin — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Liquid Paraffin and Glycerin

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Key Differences

Liquid Paraffin and Glycerin are both substances commonly found in a variety of products, including those for skincare and pharmaceuticals. Liquid Paraffin, also known as mineral oil, is a clear, colorless, and odorless oil derived from petroleum. Its primary use is as a laxative and a moisturizer in skincare products. On the other hand, Glycerin, sometimes known as glycerol, is a sugar alcohol derived from animal or vegetable fats.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023
Liquid Paraffin is often used in cosmetics, ointments, and lotions because of its moisturizing properties. It creates a barrier on the skin's surface that helps retain moisture. Conversely, Glycerin is a humectant, which means it attracts water to itself. In skincare products, Glycerin draws moisture from the air and helps the skin retain it, making the skin feel soft and hydrated.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023
In the pharmaceutical industry, Liquid Paraffin is used as a laxative. When consumed, it helps ease the passage of stool. Glycerin, in this context, is also used as a laxative but in a suppository form. It works by irritating the bowel and drawing water into the intestine, making it easier to pass stool.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023
Liquid Paraffin can be found in products like baby oils and various creams for its occlusive properties. It’s not water-soluble and remains on the skin's surface. Glycerin, however, is water-soluble and can be found in a broader range of products, from lotions to soaps, and even in foods as a sweetener or preservative.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023
While both Liquid Paraffin and Glycerin have their distinct uses, they often work in tandem in various products to provide a balanced moisturizing effect. For instance, a skincare product might use Liquid Paraffin to lock in moisture and Glycerin to attract additional moisture to the skin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Source

Derived from petroleum
Derived from animal or vegetable fats
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Oct 10, 2023

Solubility

Not water-soluble
Water-soluble
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Primary Use

Laxative, moisturizer in skincare
Skincare, sweetener, preservative
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Oct 10, 2023

Moisturizing Mechanism

Creates barrier on skin to retain moisture
Attracts water to itself (humectant)
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Oct 10, 2023

Appearance

Clear, colorless, odorless oil
Clear, viscous liquid
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Oct 10, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Liquid Paraffin

Liquid Paraffin is a clear mineral oil derived from petroleum.
The baby oil contains Liquid Paraffin to help moisturize the skin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Glycerin

Glycerin is a sugar alcohol derived from fats and is often used in skincare.
This soap contains Glycerin, so it won't dry out your skin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Liquid Paraffin

Liquid Paraffin is odorless and doesn't easily absorb into the skin.
I prefer lotions with Liquid Paraffin since they stay on the surface and keep my skin moisturized.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Glycerin

Glycerin can also be found in foods as a sweetener or preservative.
This candy contains Glycerin, which gives it a sweet taste and soft texture.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Liquid Paraffin

Liquid Paraffin is used in various cosmetic products for its moisturizing properties.
This lipstick contains Liquid Paraffin, giving it a smooth application.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Glycerin

Glycerin is a humectant, attracting moisture from the air to hydrate the skin.
The Glycerin in this lotion helps pull moisture into my skin, keeping it soft.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Liquid Paraffin

Liquid Paraffin is often used as a laxative due to its stool-softening properties.
Doctors sometimes recommend Liquid Paraffin to patients struggling with constipation.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Glycerin

Glycerin is used as a laxative in suppository form.
For immediate relief, the doctor prescribed a Glycerin suppository.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Liquid Paraffin

Liquid Paraffin acts as a barrier on the skin, helping to retain moisture.
To combat dry skin in winter, many turn to creams containing Liquid Paraffin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Glycerin

Glycerin can be of animal or vegetable origin.
The label specifies that it uses vegetable Glycerin, making it suitable for vegetarians.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Glycerin

Glycerol or a preparation of glycerol.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 02, 2023

Glycerin

(organic compound) glycerine.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 02, 2023

Glycerin

An oily, viscous liquid, C3H5(OH)3, colorless and odorless, and with a hot, sweetish taste, existing in the natural fats and oils as the base, combined with various acids, as oleic, margaric, stearic, and palmitic. It may be obtained by saponification of fats and oils. It is a triatomic alcohol, and hence is also called glycerol. See Note under Gelatin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 02, 2023

Glycerin

A sweet syrupy trihydroxy alcohol obtained by saponification of fats and oils
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 02, 2023

Common Curiosities

Can Glycerin be used in foods?

Yes, Glycerin can be used in foods as a sweetener or preservative.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Why is Liquid Paraffin used as a laxative?

Liquid Paraffin eases the passage of stool when consumed.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

What is the primary source of Liquid Paraffin?

Liquid Paraffin is derived from petroleum.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

What is the primary use of Glycerin in skincare?

Glycerin is used as a humectant, attracting moisture to hydrate the skin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Does Liquid Paraffin absorb into the skin?

No, Liquid Paraffin remains on the skin's surface.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Can both Liquid Paraffin and Glycerin be used for constipation relief?

Yes, Liquid Paraffin is consumed, and Glycerin is used as a suppository.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Which is considered a sugar alcohol: Liquid Paraffin or Glycerin?

Glycerin is considered a sugar alcohol.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Which has a more viscous texture: Liquid Paraffin or Glycerin?

Glycerin has a more viscous texture than Liquid Paraffin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Is Liquid Paraffin safe for all skin types?

While generally safe, those with sensitive skin should patch-test products containing Liquid Paraffin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Is Liquid Paraffin water-soluble?

No, Liquid Paraffin is not water-soluble.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

How does Glycerin help in moisturizing the skin?

Glycerin attracts water from the air and helps the skin retain it.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Where is Glycerin derived from?

Glycerin is derived from animal or vegetable fats.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Is Glycerin odorless like Liquid Paraffin?

Glycerin is generally odorless, much like Liquid Paraffin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

In what forms can you typically find Liquid Paraffin in skincare products?

Liquid Paraffin can be found in creams, ointments, and lotions.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Is Glycerin vegan?

Glycerin can be vegan if derived from vegetable fats, but it can also be derived from animal fats.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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