Propylene Glycol: Is It Bad For Your Skin?

It’s not uncommon for skin care ingredients to be widely misunderstood. Many times, information is misconstrued and disseminated without having the objective support of clinical testing and research. Propylene glycol is one of those ingredients. If you were to research propylene glycol on Google and within dermatological journals, you’d find that it has had a polarizing effect on the public. Like other skin care ingredients, much of the concern surrounding it is based upon speculation, as opposed to research.

Today, I’ll explain what propylene glycol is. We’ll explore some of its applications, both within and outside the beauty industry. I’ll also share some details regarding why it is included within skin care products.

Basics Of Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is an organic compound that is used in cosmetics and beauty products for 2 primary reasons. First, it has the traits of a humectant; it is able to absorb and help the skin retain moisture. Second, it helps active ingredients penetrate the skin. In doing so, products that contain the ingredient often provide higher levels of efficacy because they can reach deeper to deliver their beneficial actions.

There are many ways in which propylene glycol is used. Not only is it found in makeup, shampoos, cleansing creams, and other cosmetics, but the ingredient is used in a wide range of pharmaceuticals, foods, deodorants, saline solutions, and even antifreeze.

Its application in antifreeze and similar products is what encourages the spread of misinformation. Because propylene glycol is used in antifreeze, individuals jump to the conclusion that its effect within the body and upon the skin can only be damaging. However, it’s worth noting that such applications require a high concentration; far higher than that used in any skin care product. What’s more, propylene glycol has been used in various medicines for several years without adverse effect.

That being said, while prolonged exposure to the ingredient is normally considered non-irritating, there are people who are sensitive to it.

Caring For Your Skin

Skin requires constant care and attention in order to preserve its vibrancy and youthful appearance. Unless you are sensitive to propylene glycol, its inclusion within a cosmetic formulation shouldn’t necessarily be cause for concern. If your skin does exhibity sensitivity to propylene glycol, then select alternatives.  Otherwise, when it is included, its concentration is low enough to be completely safe while still aiding in other active ingredients’ penetration of the skin.



For Pat:
Although propylene glycol and glycerin are both used in the cosmetic industry as a humectant to attract moisture to the skin, they are not the same ingredient.
Best, Sharmani

vegetable Glycerin

polypropylene glycol is very useful for skin care cosmetic..its very describe very nice information about this,,thanx for this sharing.


For Jaya:
Thank you for your question. The FDA has categorized propylene glycol as “GRAS” (Generally Recognized as Safe). In concentrations used in skin care products, propylene glycol has been deemed safe for use when formulated to be non-irritating, according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board.
Since we touched on this subject in 2008, the Review Board has assessed more recent data and have concluded that it is still safe for use in cosmetic products. However, for sensitive individuals even small concentrations are potentially irritating. It’s difficult to quantify exactly what concentration as individuals differ so much and what can be tolerated by one person may be problematic for another.
Best, Sharmani


What it is ingredience can repleace propylene glycol for sensitive skin care products.


For Roha,
Thanks for your question. You may notice that instead of propylene glycol, many cosmetic and skincare companies are now favoring propanediol. Generally well-tolerated, propanediol has a few advantages, including having a low potential for skin irritation and coming from a renewable resource (corn versus petroleum). EWG also gives it an overall low hazard rating of 1.
Best, Sharmani


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