Glycerin – Good or Bad for Fungal Acne (Malassezia Folliculitis)?

is glycerin bad for fungal acne?This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Today we are talking perhaps one of the most CONTROVERSIAL topics in the fungal acne community – the ingredient you all seem to know and hate – glycerin! But is glycerin really that bad, or is it just getting a bad rap from those of us suffering from malassezia folliculitis? More importantly – Does glycerin cause fungal acne, or can it actually help to cure fungal acne?

Let’s find out.

Psst! Not sure what fungal acne (malassezia folliculitis) even is?! Check out these posts:

Prefer to Watch Instead of Read? Check out the Youtube Version

Why Glycerin Gets a Bad Rap

Before we dive into the science of glycerin, I want to tell you my hypothesis on why those in the fungal acne community like to villainize this ingredient.

It’s because of a little website we all like to use to check out the ingredients in our makeup and skincare products – that’s right,

When you enter an ingredients list containing glycerin, even if that product contains no other ingredient that is known to feed the malassezia yeast – will throw you this little warning:

Glycerin – High Sensitivity

Seriously – so dramatic, sezia. I’m 99% certain this is why everyone freaks out about glycerin! At first glance, it looks like a really bad ingredient that’s going to feed the yeast and break us out. But upon closer inspection, that’s not what it says at all.

It says that glycerin “may be acceptable in low concentrations or for individuals who are not highly sensitive to Malassezia.” And it also says “High Sensitivity” not because we are all highly sensitive to this ingredient, but because some people may be.

Now, some of you need to hear this, so I’ll say it – you can’t believe everything you read on the internet!

At the very least, we need to make sure we are using our own critical thinking skills to analyze what we are reading/seeing online. And not just about skincare, but about everything. Let’s practice together.

After I read this warning from Sezia, I can ask myself the following questions:

  • “How does know that glycerin is supposedly acceptable in low concentrations?”
  • “Where did the author of get this information?”
  • “What even is glycerin? Why is it in my products so frequently?”

I did some research, ya’ll.

The Science of Glycerin

First of all – let’s see what glycerin is defined as, and let’s figure out why it’s a common ingredient in skincare & makeup products.

I’ve grabbed this definition and common uses of glycerin from the Paula’s Choice ingredients dictionary – it’s a fantastic free resource that I encourage you to check out for yourself.

From the Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary

Glycerin Definition:

Also called glycerol or glycerine, glycerin is a humectant that’s present in all natural lipids (fats), whether animal or vegetable. It can be derived from natural substances by hydrolysis of fats and by fermentation of sugars; it also can be synthetically manufactured, which is usually the case with modern-day skincare products.

Glycerin Uses:

Glycerin is a skin-replenishing and skin-restoring ingredient, meaning it is a substance found naturally in skin, helping to establish normal balance and hydration. It’s one of the many substances in skin that helps maintain a healthy look and feel, defending against dryness and working to maintain skin’s moisture level. Essentially, glycerin is a master at hydration, and works best when combined with other replenishing and emollient ingredients.

So basically, glycerin is a product that can actually help maintain our skin’s moisture barrier by preventing dehydration. And let me tell you right now – I don’t care if you’re suffering from fungal acne or any other skin condition – a healthy moisture barrier is vital to overall skin health. In fact, you will never have the skin you want if your moisture barrier has been disrupted, because your skin will never be able to fully heal itself.

It sounds to me like glycerin is a good thing, or at least – it’s trying to be a good thing.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment or disagree! But this isn’t all we need to know. Let’s look at some actually studies that were conducted relating specifically to glycerin and fungal acne.

Glycerin & Malassezia Study 1

Here is the link to this study so you can read it for yourself:

Study 1 Results

I’ve referenced this study in one of my Youtube videos about Fungal Acne disclaimers. And here’s the gist of what this study found –

In the study, malassezia yeast was dunked into two different solutions – one containing a high concentration of glycerin, and the other containing a lesser concentration of glycerin. Neither solution was pure glycerin.

The study concluded that when the malassezia yeast came into contact with the higher concentration formula, the yeast potentially multiplied, but it did not “clear up”. However, when the yeast was dunked into the formula with a lower concentration of glycerin, the malassezia yeast actually appeared the decrease. This indicates that glycerin could actually be helpful in clearing up fungal acne, as long as it’s in the correct concentration.

At least now we know how the author of may have arrived at their claims. But let’s continue, because one scientific study simply isn’t good enough!

Glycerin & Malassezia Study 2

Here is the link to this study so you can read it for yourself:

Study 2 Results

This study is long to read, but it’s free and well worth your time. I encourage you to read it for yourself, because I am only summing these studies up.

Also – my critical thinking cap tells me that there may be important information in the studies that I (a potentially biased author, though I’m doing my best not to be) didn’t present to you, but that I should be aware of anyway. Is your critical thinking cap telling you that, too? Good!

This study found that glycerin did not feed the malassezia yeast, and therefore I concluded that those of us with fungal acne don’t need to avoid it. But again, this is just one study. Let’s look at another!

Glycerin & Malassezia Study 3

Here is the link to this study so you can read it for yourself:

Study 3 Results

Again, read this for yourself & decide. But here’s a real mind-blower for all of us. This study found that glycerin was actually an EFFECTIVE TREATMENT for malassezia folliculitis. Wow, wow, wow!

So in these three studies, we’ve gone from glycerin causing the malassezia yeast to multiply all the way to glycerin eliminating the malassezia yeast. This info is kinda nuts!


And therefore, I have concluded that there is no definitive conclusion on glycerin & fungal acne! Womp, womp. The studies themselves are not perfect, and each found something a little different, though 2/3 did technically find that glycerin is not problematic for fungal acne.

So my take on glycerin is this: I don’t believe glycerin feeds the malassezia yeast that causes fungal acne unless it is combined with other ingredients (specifically lipids) that are already known to promote the growth. And that is why I will continue to talk about and recommend products for the treatment of fungal acne that contain this controversial ingredient.

But again – don’t take my word for it. Please decide for yourself!

Something I feel like I have to say

In rare cases (and I mean extremely rare), an individual may have a legitimate allergy to glycerin (or any other ingredient for that matter), so ALWAYS proceed with caution when using makeup and skincare products. Do your patch tests, my friends.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Finally, I would like to point out that I have been using products containing glycerin daily for over 1 year since I first found out I had fungal acne.

fungal acne to clear skin before and after

And in 15+ years, my skin has never been as clear as it is now. It wasn’t even this clear when I was on dermatologist prescribed medications. Now if I could only get my old acne scars to fade as fast as my fungal acne cleared up!

Do you need some help clearing your fungal acne?

If so – I have a PDF guide – From Fungal Acne to Clear Skin – all about how I cleared my skin after 15+ years of suffering from severe acne.

Inside, I detail the exact information, methods, products, and routines I used to get clear, glowing skin, and I know they’ll work for you, too.

Navigating fungal acne was a little confusing at first, but after more than a year – I’ve gotten the hang of it. It’s insane that in 15+ years, no dermatologist or acne forum ever mentioned this skin condition! But now I’ve done the hard part of figuring it all out so you don’t have to.

You can get the guide here.

What if I Don’t Want to Use Glycerin?

Now it wouldn’t be fair of me to ask you to use your critical thinking skills to solve this glycerin/fungal acne conundrum and then not allow you to express your differing opinion.

So, if you don’t want to use glycerin, but you still want to get rid of your fungal acne – here are some products you can use that are glycerin free and will help you to get clear, beautiful skin.

3 Glycerin Free Products for Fungal Acne

Here are the only 3 products you technically need to establish a great skincare routine that is both glycerin free and will fight fungal acne!

  1. BIODERMA Sébium Purifying Cleansing Foaming Gel (Cleanser)
  2. Stridex Maximum Strength Medicated Pads (Treatment)
  3. First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Coconut Water Cream: Oil Free (Moisturizer)

Want more glycerin free products?

Grab My Glycerin Free Shopping Guide – It’s Free! Enter your email and I’ll send you the password to download it instantly!

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is glycerin bad for fungal acne

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