Why glycerin is your secret product styling weapon

Post by
Chrizelle Monique Sta. Cruz
Why glycerin is your secret product styling weapon

If you're searching for more tricks of the trade to level up your product styling and photography game, this simple solution might just be the answer!

You may be surprised to discover that glycerin has become a must-have accessory in any product stylists tool belt. This versatile formula is easy to apply, long lasting and adds to the aesthetic value of the product.

Find out how you can use to enhance a variety of different products in a practical way using glycerin.

What is glycerin?

Glycerin is an odorless, colourless thick liquid with a sweet taste that has a variety of uses for skincare products as well as food and drinks. This compound is cheap and can be bought in pharmacies or online.

Top ways to use glycerin for product styling and photography

How glycerin helps when photographing skincare products

The transparent nature of glycerin makes it a great substitute for water texture when shooting skincare products which are often photographed in the context of cleansing or freshly washed.

Because of its consistency glycerin is much easier to place and manipulate in comparison to water which ultimately gives you more control on your shoot.

Decorative drops and swirls

With glycerin's syrupy liquid texture, you can use it to add stylish water droplet details to your product such as creative dot patterns and swirls. The thicker nature of the medium means you’ll have more control to create defined decorative patterns and shapes that won’t trickle away.

Pulkit Wadha from @pa_creativestudio uses glycerin to create artistic droplets

Realistic water droplets

Another way you can use glycerin is to make realistic looking dew drops to make your images look fresher. By adding glycerin to water, this will help in bonding the water molecules together so they can create bigger dew drops.

Product photography for Suave by Creatively Squared

Drips and oozes

If you want to highlight the texture of a serum product in your shot, but don’t want to waste a precious drop of the actual product, glycerin can be a great alternative.

Provided your product formula is also transparent, using glycerin gives you a cheap and plentiful medium to experiment with different effects like drips and oozes.

Ruth Robinson uses glycerin to create a textural product drip

Shower scene

Adding water texture to a perspex or glass panel can help to add freshly showered context to your product. Glycerin can be used to create more defined droplets that won’t budge or drip onto your set. Simply mix your glycerin with water and spray directly onto your panel for a clean fresh look with less mess.

Product photography for Pond’s by Creatively Squared


How glycerin helps when photographing beverage products

Most pre-packaged drinks are designed to be served cold and the chances are that if you are shooting this type of product you’ll need to make it look chilled and refreshing.

Keeping beverages ice cold on set can be challenging - especially if you are on location or shooting for long periods of time. Luckily glycerin can come to the rescue with long lasting condensation that will last for weeks.

Add condensation to cans and bottles

You can fake a natural looking condensation effect by mixing glycerin with water and spraying it to your bottle, can, or glass. See our demonstration videos here if you want the exact ratios and instructions.

This technique gives you a more lasting and controlled chilled look compared to the natural condensation process.

Beverage photography for Tiger by Creatively Squared

Give glassware an icy cold appearance

Just like with bottles and cans you can apply condensation directly to glassware to make it look extra chilled. The transparent qualities of glass teamed with condensation adds beautiful textural detail that you can enhance with different lighting effects.

Anja Burgar from @useyournoodles uses glycerin for a defined condensation look on her beer glass

Make fake ice look more realistic

Many photographers opt to use reusable replica ice cubes in drinks photography due to the practical long lasting effect. To make your ice look extra realistic you can spray on glycerin droplets to mimic the look of condensation inside the glass.

If you’re curious to know how to make replica ice, here’s how to create fake ice cubes that look like the real deal for your next drinks photoshoot.

Here’s a great example by Fanette Rickert from @frenchlyphotography and check out her 8 clever techniques that will perfect your creative drinks photography

Glycerin’s long-lasting effect compared to natural condensation or water droplets is a game-changer for both product and beverage photography. Now there are many more ways to use this styling trick so don’t hesitate to have fun with a little bit of glycerin and experiment!

Are you inspired to use this trick on your next shoot? Learn more styling tips and hacks by joining our community at Creatively Squared.

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