Ever wondered why our skin remains dry even after applying body lotions? This is maybe the reason why— propylene glycol.

What is propylene glycol?

It is a synthetic organic compound, a by-product of fossil fuel, which can also be found in nature as a by-product of fermentation. Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid that absorbs water.

Where can we find propylene glycol?

It can be found in products like antifreeze, cushions, paints, cosmetics (liquid foundation, lipsticks, etc) and personal care products (baby wipes, spray deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, body lotion etc).

Why is propylene glycol toxic to human?

Even though it is stated that a low dose of propylene glycol is not harmful to human, it is classified as a strong irritant by the National Library of Medicine in the United States. It has also been stated in the Material Safety Data Sheet on propylene glycol, that it can cause skin allergies such as contact dermatitis, for cosmetics products having this ingredient. Therefore, individuals that are allergic to propylene glycol would experience inflamed dry skin in the facial area or small red dots on the body. We are sure some of us here can relate very well to that!

The cause of our never-ending dry skin may be due to propylene glycol. Just like mineral oil, propylene glycol forms a seal over our skin, preventing the escape of water and gives the appearance of smooth and soft skin.

Clueless? Not to worry. We will explain it in a layman term for you.

Propylene glycol is used as a humectant (a substance used to reduce the loss of moisture) in cosmetics products, such as body lotion. The formulation in the body lotion with propylene glycol helps to only hold the moisture in the body lotion and without actually adding moisture or moisturize the skin.

When we apply the body lotion with propylene glycol to the skin, it gives a reverse reaction because propylene glycol tends to sit on the surface of our skin only without doing any moisturizing job. *Grrrr*

When rinsing it off, propylene glycol dissolves the skin’s natural oils that are supposed to keep our skin moisturised, thus making our skin dry and dull. It is only a natural reaction that when we feel our skin dry, we would most likely try to moisturize it by using MORE lotion, which again makes the skin even drier! It’s a never-ending chain of effect!

Body lotion with propylene glycol may give you the short-term happiness of having smooth, soft and moisturized skin. But use it over a prolonged period, we would start noticing that our skin appears dull and dry, to the extent of making any fine lines or wrinkle more noticeable.

Notes for people with kidney and liver damage:

People with liver and kidney damage should try and avoid any products that contain synthetic chemical of propylene glycol.

Although propylene glycol is not a bioaccumulative (accumulation of substances in the body), it would break down after forty-eight hours in a body with normal kidney and liver function.

With that in mind, people with liver and kidney damage have a high risk of building up propylene glycol and lactic acid in the bloodstream, causing symptoms of toxicity for these group of people.

Notes for pregnant ladies and infants:

Pregnant ladies, infants, and children under the age of four should also try to avoid this synthetic chemical as their body have lower levels of an enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase, which is essential to breakdown propylene glycol. Inability to break propylene glycol down would increase the risk of developing toxicity in the body.

It is especially important to note that baby wipes may contain propylene glycol and should be avoided as it takes infants up to three times as long to remove propylene glycol from their bodies and may be particularly sensitive to the effects on the central nervous system. Red alert, parents! Time to read the ingredient labels for the safety of your babies!

Learn how to read cosmetics products ingredients labels and decide what is the best for ourselves. Be empowered by choosing cosmetics products that do not harm our body and the environment. After all, there is more benefits than harm in knowing more about what we apply on our skin every single day.



Propylene Glycol: The Complicated Additive with Potentially Dangerous Side Effects

Ingredient Watch List: Propylene Glycol—It Penetrates Skin Only to Dry it Out





Image Credit: Style Craze


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