Mystery Ingredient Monday: Propylene Glycol

Here’s another one of those funky names again cropping up on your cosmetic and skin care labels: Propylene Glycol. What is it? Where is it? And should you be cautious about using products with it?

Propylene glycol is an organic alcohol that is used in everything from skin moisturizers to fragrance. However, this alcohol is very strong. According to EWG’s Skin Deep research, propylene glycol has been classified as a skin irritant. It can cause overabsorption of the skin and flare up allergic reactions. There is also a possibility of organ toxicity (but that’s in very large quantities, thought to be linked to the factory workers who deal with it every day). It can lead to urticaria, a rash on the skin, in humans. A large amount of animal testing has also been done on propylene glycol as well, so if a product uses this, they might also be testing on animals, something that definitely goes against vegan beliefs.

 The bottom line: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel approved the use of propylene glycol in cosmetics up to 50%, though they say that some people are more sensitive than others. Information regarding propylene glycol is that it is not going to cause cancer or chronic illness, but it could cause a skin reaction. You have to wonder, however, if something is handled in factories using gloves and masks, why would you deliberately put it on your skin?