Propylene Glycol in Skin Care: Safety, Benefits, Side Effects

Robert Hundley

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If you have ever scanned the ingredient label on your bottle of lotion, shampoo, or even serum, you may possibly have seen the ingredient propylene glycol.

This colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid is drinking water soluble with hydrating qualities, so it is a common additive in a wide range of skin treatment goods.

But there’s some level of controversy close to propylene glycol — which is also recognized as 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, and trimethyl glycol — notably when you analysis it on the web.

You’ll uncover it stated on the Agency for Harmful Substances and Ailment Registry (ATSDR), which might concern you. But as the company points out, this artificial substance can aid take in extra h2o and keep humidity in medicines, cosmetics, and even food items products and solutions.

So, what is the true story? Here’s what to know about the position of propylene glycol in pores and skin treatment merchandise.

Relying on the place you research, you could possibly obtain alarming language in relation to propylene glycol, like terms like “toxic” and “carcinogenic.” There’s some reasoning at the rear of this language: Propylene glycol is usually derived from petroleum.

But Joshua Zeichner, a board qualified dermatologist and an affiliate professor at the Mount Sinai Healthcare facility in NYC, points out that given that beauty-grade petrolatum (petroleum) isn’t the identical as business petroleum. So, this is not a explanation for concern.

Purvisha Patel, a board licensed dermatologist, agrees. She describes that men and women possible believe it is unsafe, due to the fact it’s shaped by introducing h2o to petrolatum, but both of those of these components are risk-free.

Patel claims propylene glycol is inert, or chemically inactive, and there is no motive to keep away from it in your elegance and pores and skin care goods.

The Environmental Doing the job Team offers propylene glycol a “fair” rating and notes that it poses no danger of most cancers or developmental and reproductive toxicity. But it does acknowledge an association with irritation and speak to dermatitis, even in concentrations as lower as 2 %.

Chemical, foodstuff, and pharmaceutical industries usually use propylene glycol as an additive. In accordance to the ATSDR, it is included in:

  • coolants
  • antifreeze
  • plasticizers
  • warmth transfer and hydraulic fluids
  • smoke screens and simulators

Supplied these utilizes, it helps make feeling that you might worry when you see the identical ingredient in your most loved lotion.

“But the reality is that a lot of items consist of propylene glycol, and they are harmless to use for the normal population,” Zeichner states.

Propylene glycol is an ingredient in quite a few lotions, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shaving lotions, deodorants, and a lot more.

What would make it this sort of a preferred component? Right here are a several important good reasons.

It’s a preservative

Propylene glycol can aid lengthen the shelf lifestyle of skin care products and solutions many thanks to antimicrobial houses that enable prevent the overgrowth of microorganisms. This assists preserve the products.

It is a humectant

“At small stages, propylene glycol is generally utilized to improve moisturizing rewards of a pores and skin treatment products, as it has a superior affinity for drinking water,” Zeichner claims.

Humectants pull h2o into the skin and support keep it there for extra supple, hydrated pores and skin. Which is why propylene glycol is usually employed in moisturizing formulations.

It will make other ingredients far more powerful

Active substances can much better penetrate the pores and skin, many thanks to propylene glycol. To place it yet another way, your favorite serum may get the job done perfectly mainly because of the advantages of this additive.

Though propylene glycol is really widespread, the ingredient will not operate perfectly for absolutely everyone.

“The problem with propylene glycol is that it not uncommonly brings about allergic reactions in the skin, recognized as speak to dermatitis,” Zeichner points out.

You could probably create a rash when utilizing a product with propylene glycol if you:

In accordance to Zeichner, this is the principal motive why propylene glycol has formulated a adverse status.

Patel notes that dermatologists can check for sensitivities or allergic reactions to propylene glycol.

If you’re involved you could have a reaction to this component, or if you’ve found a rash or other reaction right after making use of a product containing propylene glycol, it is a great idea to link with a dermatologist.

Discover more about how dermatologists can support diagnose and take care of skin conditions.

Some pores and skin care products can result in unwanted reactions.

It is often finest to end applying a new item and test with a skin doctor if you see:

  • inflammation, inflammation, bumps, or hives
  • skin discoloration
  • itching or stinging
  • bumps or hives

Patch tests when you consider a product for the 1st time can assistance you ascertain if your pores and skin will tolerate the product or service.

To patch take a look at:

  1. Apply a smaller volume of the products to an location of pores and skin in close proximity to where you’ll be utilizing the products. You might, for illustration, exam a entire body lotion on your interior elbow, and a facial moisturizer powering your ear or along your jaw.
  2. Hold out at the very least 24 hrs.
  3. Look at the spot for any improvements, like swelling, itching, or irritation.
  4. If you never recognize a response, you can go forward and use the products.

Propylene glycol is discovered in countless numbers of skin and personal care merchandise, so you may possibly presently be applying it devoid of even being aware of.

If you assume you could possibly advantage from the moisturizing, smoothing added benefits of this additive, right here are a handful of goods to consider:

You’ll locate propylene glycol in lots of skin treatment and natural beauty solutions, in particular merchandise built to moisturize.

This ingredient is frequently considered protected, even helpful — although you could want to attempt it with caution if you have delicate skin or eczema.


Jessica Timmons has been performing as a freelance author considering that 2007, masking almost everything from being pregnant and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, physical fitness, martial arts, dwelling decor, and significantly much more. Her function has appeared in mindbodygreen, Being pregnant & New child, Fashionable Mother and father Messy Youngsters, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.

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