Propylene Glycol For Skin

If you just walk to your dressing table, pick up a few of your skincare products and check their labels, I am sure that you would encounter the word ‘Propylene Glycol‘ at least once. Propylene Glycol is a common ingredient in most beauty products – from cleansers to moisturizers to deodorants and liquid foundations.
So, what is this ingredient and what does it do? Does it have any dangers associated with it?

Let’s learn about Propylene Glycol today!


Propylene Glycol For Skin
Propylene Glycol For Skin

Propylene Glycol or 1,2-propanediol is a synthetic (i.e., man-made) alcohol derived from either petroleum, natural gas or vegetable sources. It is classified as an ‘organic’ compound in chemistry, based on its chemical attributes.
Propylene Glycol is a viscous, colourless and odourless, water-soluble liquid. It acts as a humectant, solvent, emulsifier and stabilizer and is widely used as an ingredient in beauty, food as well as the pharmaceutical industry.


Propylene Glycol For Skin
Propylene Glycol For Skin

At low concentration levels, Propylene Glycol acts as a humectant, i.e., it draws/attracts water to the outer layer of your skin, thus helping it stay hydrated. It also works as an emollient, forming a protective barrier on the skin and preventing water-loss. It can offer some moisturization to the skin as well. It is an effective ingredient for dry skin.
As the skin loses moisture and dries out with age, using Propylene Glycol can help hydrate ageing skin and make it look healthier. It may also make the skin softer and smoother.

This ingredient acts as an epidermal delivery agent and enhances the absorption of other active ingredients present in the product. This in turn helps the product work more efficiently and provide better results.
Additionally, it is not oily and hence, is considered safe for acne-prone skin.
It is also used to temperature stabilize a product (for example – a lotion or cream) so that the product doesn’t change consistency with varying temperatures.


Propylene Glycol For Skin
Propylene Glycol For Skin

Propylene Glycol is usually derived from Propylene Oxide, which in turn comes from petroleum. It is the mention of ‘Petroleum’ – a carcinogen, that scares people and raises safety concerns. Propylene Glycol is also used as an industrial antifreeze and is a major ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluids. Many websites even claim that it dries out the skin in the long term or that it allows toxins and pollutants to penetrate the skin/enter the bloodstream.

So, should the presence of Propylene Glycol in your lotion be a cause for concern?

No, not really.

First of all, not everything derived from petroleum is harmful or toxic. It is totally possible to derive a safe product from a toxic substance. So, unless there is a contamination, ‘derived from petroleum’ is not an issue. Also, there are different grades used in the industry, like pharmaceutical and industrial grades. So, the Propylene Glycol present in your cosmetic product is not of the same grade as the one present in brake fluids.

Secondly, the claims that Propylene Glycol will lead to dry skin or that it allows unwanted chemicals to penetrate the skin/bloodstream are just ‘claims’ – with no research or proper scientific data to back it up.

On the other hand, the U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board reviewed the available data for Propylene Glycol and concluded that is it safe for use in cosmetic products when formulated to be non-irritating to the skin. The FDA considers it safe for direct and indirect addition to food. EU has also listed the ingredient as safe for cosmetic use and NTP considered it pretty safe as well.

Having said all that, Propylene Glycol can irritate your skin or trigger an allergic reaction (eg. redness, rashes), especially if your skin is sensitive. So, you should always do a patch test before using a new product. If your skin doesn’t show signs of irritation even after 24 hours, you can safely use the product. Remember that even if there is a reaction, it may or may not be due to Propylene Glycol.

[Note: If you notice any redness, itching or allergic reaction after using a product, please stop using it immediately. Consult a doctor if needed.]


Based on what I learnt, Propylene Glycol is considered safe for cosmetic use and you can use products containing the ingredient. But remember to do a patch test first to see you are not allergic to any of the ingredients present!


Disclosure & Disclaimer: This blog is provided for general informational purposes only. I have tried my best to provide accurate information but please understand that I am not a medical doctor, researcher or an expert in any field. Please do not consider my opinions to be substitutes for sound professional advice.

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36 thoughts on “Propylene Glycol For Skin

  1. This is a very informative post. I didn’t know anything about it. Thanks for the detailed article.

  2. This ingredient is quite common in skincare products and thanks for sharing in-depth knowledge about this.

  3. Very Informative post. I generally do not read the labels but glad i cam across this blog post. This is helpful.
    Hopefully now I can happily and correctly choose the my skin moisturiser.

  4. Its really good to know about the propylene glycol and I found this in many products. Great thoughts.

  5. Propylene glycol I never knew about this ingredient thank you for the information which is really important as we use so many products on skin.

  6. I had a brief flashback to the lessons on hydrocarbons in organic chemistry classes from reading this. I’ve seen this ingredient present in so many skin-care products, but have never actually thought of doing in depth research like this. This is a great nugget of info to ease everyone’s fears.

  7. Propylene glycol ingredients is present in so many of the cosmetics etc never knew so many detailed information.

  8. Good to know that the U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board has concluded that Propylene Glycol is safe for use in cosmetic products and is found to be non-irritating to the skin. Thanks for sharing such wealth of information ?

  9. Looking up for ingredients in the skin care is a good habit. And understanding it is also important, this post has given us a lot of details of propylene glycol that’s helps us to understand its benefits well.

  10. I never knew about this ingredients . Used beauty products daily but ingredient which is used unknown to me. Great post.

  11. Propylene glycol ingredients I knew are in many cosmetics, but didn’t bothered much for the details . Thankfully through ur post got to know about it.

  12. That’s very helpful read. Never know that Propylene Glycol is considered safe for cosmetic use

  13. Its really good to know about the propylene glycol and I found this in many products. Great thoughts.

  14. This post clear alarm doubts about Propylene Glycol. Now I can use the skin products containing Propylene Glycol with out worrying

  15. A lot of research is still going on for the ingredients but yes few ingredients are safe to add to cosmetic products and necessary also to preserve the formulation. This is a detailed information shared.

  16. Hey, your article is very informative. I saw Propylene Glycol in various cosmetics but was not sure about its significance and application. Thanks for sharing the details.

  17. I love make up but I had no idea about this propelyn thing. Indeed this is a good thing to know and luckily it is not harmful.

  18. I am so lazy and I barely do any patch test ever. But lately, I have started noticing ingredients of cosmetics and food items. Understanding and right knowledge is very important to make decisions. Nice research

  19. Did not notice this ingredient before . But I am glad reading post I have some knowledge about it . I can talk about Propylene Glyco with people out there .

  20. I have seen this ingredient in many of the products, which I use. It is good to know, they are perfectly safe for use and also hydrates the skin leaving it healthier and brighter.

  21. Quite an informative post about a particular ingredient in products. I mean, as moms we do look at the baby product ingredients but I rarely look at our own products that we use.

  22. This post is really well researched. I had heard that Propylene Glycol is harmful but glad I read this post for correct information regarding the same. Now I can safely use skin care products having the same.

  23. Its really good to know about the propylene glycol and I found this in many products. Thanks for sharing this informative article with us.

  24. You have addressed all the concerns one may have thinking of propylene glycol. Most of the time lack of information is misleading. Thanks for sharing this information.

  25. Thanks for sharing this as it’s very informative. While I do read the back of all products that I use I at tmes dont know the meaning or the purpose of some ingredients and this post helped me understand one of it.

  26. This was very informative. Yes I had a habit of reading list of ingredients before buying any skin products. And I had observed propylene glycol is a most common one. Thanks for sharing all important aspect of this important ingredient with us.

  27. Popylene glycol make a protective film on the skin that prevents water loss and helps to smooth and soften skin. Great thoughts.

  28. This is a very interesting and also useful post. Propylene Glycol is present in so many products and it ii is good to know more about its properties and uses.

  29. What a great helpful post. You’ve cleared all doubts about Propylene glycol. I’d appreciate if you suggest some products as well ?.

  30. Very informative. Yes, we have seen written Propylene Glycol on the label of cosmetics. But don’t know what is it and is it good or bad for our skin. So, thanks for sharing this blog.

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