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  5. Propylene Glycol For Skin: Benefits, Side effects & How To Use

If you're constantly on the lookout for ultra-hydrating and moisturizing ingredients, this article is for you. Because today, we are going to enlighten you about Propylene Glycol, a widely used ingredient in the cosmetic industry.

Propylene Glycol is used in different capacities in skin care products. It is a versatile ingredient that has many benefits to offer to its user. So, let's find out everything this ingredient can do and bust some common myths regarding its ill effects.

What Is Propylene Glycol?

Propylene glycol [1] is an organic, colourless and odorless synthetic liquid that absorbs water. It is used as humectant, solvent, emollient or preservative in various skincare products.. It is best known for the attributes of a hydrating and delivery ingredient. This means it retains moisture in your skin and aids in better absorption of potent ingredients into the skin. The ingredient is most commonly used in creams, lotions, and serums.

How To Use Propylene Glycol On Skin?

  • Some skincare products with this ingredient may need priming prior usage.
  • For a few products, you may require to shake it well before use.
  • Read the instructions on the product label carefully to avoid any kind of mishap.
  • In case of questions or doubts regarding Propylene Glycol usage for certain skin problems, do not hesitate to consult your dermatologist.
  • If you're using it for a concern, only apply to the affected areas of the skin as directed in the label or by your dermatologist.
  • The frequency and the amount of usage will depend on the product and your skin problem. For example, if you are looking to cure your dry hands, your doctor may suggest you to apply the product after every hand wash.
  • For skin burn issues, first check with your doctor if your product can be applied to your burnt areas or not.



Make sure you are not allergic to the ingredient.

Do not ignore if you have irritation on skin after applying the cosmetic.

Follow the instructions on the product before applying.

Do not mix it with any other product without consulting a doctor.

Only apply the quantity as directed on the product.

Do not use a huge amount of the product at once.

Apply it only once or twice a day as per the instruction.

Do not use it more than the required/instructed time.

Use the product to heal the affected areas of your skin.

Avoid using it in sensitive areas like eyes and nasal region.

Word Of Caution

Though propylene glycol is relatively safe to use, Few areas of your body with skin conditions may get further affected due to the application of this ingredient. Usage of Propylene Glycol on irritated skin may cause harm. Thus, consult your doctor before application, especially if you have any skin problems. Also conduct a patch test before use in case of allergies.

Benefits Of Propylene Glycol For Skin

1. Absorbs Water

Propylene glycol acts as a humectant at a low concentration level. It secures the water and takes it to the outer layer of your skin. Hence, the cosmetics products which have Propylene Glycol are good for skin hydration and to resolve your skin dryness and dull appearance.

2. Moisturizing Element

When Propylene Glycol behaves like a humectant, it also offers some moisturizing benefits to your skin. Your skin gets a smooth and non-sticky feel after using products enriched with Propylene Glycol.

3. Reduces Aging Signs

We all start aging after a certain point in life. Our skin has a component called Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) [2], which dries out with age. This causes aging signs like wrinkles, flaking, and roughness. Propylene Glycol can slow down the pace at which your skin ages.

4. Enhances The Effect Of Cosmetics

Apart from having its unique benefits, propylene glycol also helps in absorption of other active ingredients in cosmetics. It simplifies and enhances ingredient penetration through the skin. Naturally, the cosmetic works more efficiently and provides the best effect.

5. Prevents Water Loss

Propylene Glycol works as an emollient to create a protective layer on your skin. This prevents water loss and results in smooth and healthy-looking skin.

6. Good For Acne

One of the most common and bothersome skin issues we face is acne. Many cosmetic ingredients do more harm to acne instead of clearing it. But propylene glycol is safe for acne as it is not oily. It helps to heal the skin with time and fade the acne.

blackboard with the chemical formula of Propylene glycol

Difference Between Propylene Glycol & Ethylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol and Ethylene Glycol are commonly mistaken to be the same ingredient. But they have completely different structures and attributes. Ethylene Glycol is used as an anti-freeze, but it has a high toxicity level which may be harmful to your skin. On the other hand, propylene glycol has very low-level toxicity for some skin conditions and is used in many cosmetics.

Did You Know?

  • Propylene glycol breaks down in the body within 48 hours of its application.
  • Propylene Glycol is safe to use regularly if you are not allergic to it.
  • Due to its versatile nature, Propylene glycol works well with almost every ingredient.
  • According to the World Health Organization , daily intake for Propylene is estimated at 25 mg per kg body weight.
  • Propylene fulfills the duties of antifreeze when used in chemicals, food, and other products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [3] has declared propylene glycol as a safe additive for food.

Propylene Glycol Side Effects On Skin & Precautions

  • Propylene Glycol is obtained from petroleum, which leads to the concerns if it is carcinogenic (cancer-causing). But remember that cosmetic-grade petrolatum and commercially used petroleum are different from each other. Thus, the toxicity level in propylene glycol is negligible and safe for skincare.
  • People who have eczema should not be using propylene-based cosmetics as it may worsen the skin condition.
  • Try a little amount of the product on your arms before you use it regularly. If the ingredient does not suit you or causes allergy, then discontinue use.
  • Studies suggest repeated application of this ingredient on the eye and nasal region may develop some irritation.

Wrapping Up

It is always good to know the chemicals you put on your skin. Even though Propylene Glycol for skin is a debatable topic, we have tried to jot down every pro and con to give you a clear overview of the ingredient. There should not be any major concern about using Propylene Glycol. But as we always say, consulting your dermatologist for details is the best option.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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