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Ingredient Review - Propylene Glycol



Propylene Glycol can be found in personal care products and food. It is an ingredient I chose to avoid because of the links to skin irritation and contact dermatitis. I am fully aware that any ingredient, natural or synthetic, has the potential to cause a reaction. It will depend on how our individual bodies react and the quantity applied. As someone who suffers with eczema, I make it my mission to avoid certain ingredients because I have to do what is right for my skin. Others may avoid Propylene Glycol because it is a product of the petrochemical industry and we have to consider it is an industry which is unsustainable and polluting the environment. 

Propylene Glycol comes in more than one formulation, industrial and pharmaceutical and because of this it has various uses. A quick Google search will bring up some scary claims and a connection to antifreeze. Propylene Glycol is commonly used in engine coolants and antifreeze solutions, however it is used as a safer replacement to ethylene glycol which is toxic and dangerous. Whilst there may be scaremongering tactics circulating the internet, I am still not comfortable knowing Propylene Glycol is used commercially to defrost airplanes. What benefit could that possibly offer my skin?

When it comes to skincare, propylene glycol is used as a moisturising agent (aka humectant) and it is a cheap filler ingredient. One natural alternative is glycerine which can be sourced from soya bean or coconut but it may also be derived from animals or synthetically produced. My research leads me to believe that glycerin is a more effective humectant than propylene glycol so that supports my decision to avoid it. There is another natural alternative called Propanediol Glycol (Chemical name: Propan-1,3-diol) which is derived from vegetable sources (corn) making it more eco-friendly in comparison to Propylene Glycol. It does have EcoCert approval and is considered safe for cosmetics and food.

The quantity of propylene glycol in cosmetic products is small and it is not considered a risk. However, I look at the bigger picture and mainstream products contain a cocktail of undesirable ingredients which from my perspective increases the risk of allergic reactions. My skin responds better to natural ingredients and that gives me justification to continue using skincare which is considered natural, green and clean.

What are your thoughts and feeling about the use of Propylene Glycol in cosmetics/skincare and food?

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13 comments:

  1. Really informative, thanks xx

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    1. You're welcome, glad you found this informative

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  2. I'm with you on this one. I too like to avoid chemicals in my personal care products as much as possible. If an ingredients label is short & the items on the list pure/natural/organic that makes me one happy lady.

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    1. Go Team Green, totally agree the shorter the list the better :-)

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  3. A while ago I made a cake with green frosting (for St. Pat's) without really thinking about what might be in the food coloring. Later the husband and I both realized eating the cake had made us a bit ill, so I looked up the ingredients and saw that good ol' PG was in the dye! I can't say for sure that it was the green frosting that did it, but I definitely don't want something like that in my food. For skin care I'm not super-stringent, but I do try to avoid chemicals as much as possible. I just don't see how something like this could be beneficial.

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    1. I did the same with cough syrup, had no idea PG was in it and it made me feel a little uneasy. Although the research shows it is same for ingestion I am left scratching my head why it needs to be in my food

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  4. I've always wondered about Propylene Glycol as an ingredient and what it's used for - great post Sarah! xx

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    1. I'm glad you found this useful :-)

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  5. I was looking at a Vit C serum from a particular brand and the first ingredient was propylene glycol. Already, looking at the name told me it must be an unclean ingredient, and true enough my instincts were right when I did a search. I'm glad I did not spend $45 on a serum with that as a base!

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    1. I'd imagine it's in the serum to help the Vit C absorb into the skin, you were wise not to waste your money, that's an expensive product

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  6. I wonder if that's the main cause to my psorisis issue. Thank heavens its not bad. I am so glad I found your blog -Stacey

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    1. Thanks Stacey, there are many ingredients which maybe a contributing factor but my viewpoint is PG is not really worth having in skincare

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  7. Thanks for this informative article! I've heard of this ingredient before but never really looked into it too much. I will be definitely making sure now that I don't buy anything which contains it. Thanks again!

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