Watch Out For Propylene Glycol

Watch Out For Propylene Glycol

If you read product labels, you've probably come across propylene glycol in your skin or hair care products. It's a potentially harmful chemical that we don't recommend putting on your body.

A Crude oil By-product

Propylene glycol (PG) is an ingredient in lipsticks, liquid foundation, conditioners, spray deodorants, moisturizers, suntan lotions, and baby wipes, shampoos, and more. But it's also found in floor wax, antifreeze, brake, and hydraulic fluid, and paint.

PG comes from propylene, a by-product of petroleum refining. It's also manufactured from natural gas.

Chemists use propylene to make a variety of products. Some of them are polypropylene (used in plastics), and propylene oxide, from which we get propylene glycol. PG is water-soluble and is considered non-toxic. As such, companies use it as a:

  • Stabilizer– helps to keep products constant at various temperatures
  • Humectant– helps products attract and hold onto moisture
  • Solvent– helps ingredients dissolve into each other
  • Emulsifier– which helps mix water and oil

Propylene glycol is used across several industries due to its versatility and affordability. You may find it in spray medications, processed foods, makeup, and pet food. Is this something we should be using on the skin?

Causes Dry Skin Over Time

Just like mineral oil, PG forms a seal over your skin, preventing loss of moisture. However, it doesn't add any moisture. At the same time, it attracts moisture from the skin's lower layers to the top layer- this makes your skin appear soft and smooth. 

This works in the short term, but over time the lower layers dry out. The skin becomes dull, worsening the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

PG also remains on the surface of the skin even after you rinse it. This chemical dissolves the fats and oils that nourish your skin. Your skin reacts and becomes parched, thus requiring more moisturizer. But the moisturizer dries out your skin!

Gets into Your Bloodstream

PG enhances the penetration of products into the skin. These products go to the inner skin layers and may end up in the bloodstream. There aren't any scientific studies on the long-term effects of our exposure to this chemical. However, similar compounds (such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and triclosan) have been proven to accumulate in the body by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

 The Material Safety Data Sheet lists propylene glycol as a potent skin irritant and has been linked to causing contact dermatitis. The sheet also warns that this chemical can inhibit skin cell growth and damage cell membranes, leading to surface damage, rashes, and dry skin.

Our Recommendation

This ingredient is easy to avoid since it's listed on product labels. The best solution, though, is to buy products from reputable organic skincare brands that are selective in their ingredients. Check out our website for products that will nourish and protect your skin.  


With love,

The Sole Toscana Beauty Team