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Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a synthetic additive used in a wide array of skincare products for a number of reasons. Read more...
 

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What is propylene glycol?



Propylene glycol is a synthetic additive used in a wide array of skincare products for a number of reasons. It is added to skin care products in particular for its use as a :

  • Humectant: This means it attracts and holds onto water. This enhances a product's ability to act as a moisturizer.

  • Emollient: This means that it forms a film over the skin to trap in moisture to prevent it from escaping.

  • Solvent: This means that it helps other ingredients dissolve easily in a formulation to make it more cosmetically elegant to apply.

  • Enhances absorption of products.

  • Preservative


Propylene glycol is a known cause of allergic and irritant contact dermatitis. Propylene glycol was in fact named “Allergen of the year” in 2018 by the North American Contact Dermatitis Society. And, by the way, it’s used as antifreeze as well instead of ethylene glycol as it is considered less toxic. Propylene glycol, in spite of being known as a trigger for contact dermatitis, is generally recognized as safe by the FDA.







What is propylene glycol made of?



Propylene glycol is generally derived from petroleum however there are plant-based/bio-based versions that have developed.



Why is propylene glycol found in skincare products?



In general, propylene glycol is found in lots of skincare products, especially those designed to moisturize or condition the skin given its wide array of properties that make it ideally suited to do so.



Is propylene glycol the same as glycolic acid?



Propylene glycol has very different properties from glycolic acid. Propylene glycol is used to hydrate, moisturize, and protect the skin. Glycolic acid exfoliates the skin. Propylene glycol can break down to form glycolic acid, however.



Is propylene glycol considered harmful?



Propylene glycol is considered safe and even found in foods as an additive. It is, however, a known trigger for contact dermatitis.




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