Propylene Glycol
Sat, June 27, 2009 at 12:00 PM
[Stephanie Greenwood]

Today's Chemical:
Propylene Glycol

EWG Risk Score:
5

What is it?
A skin conditioning agent, solvent, humectant.

Why is it a risk?
Propylene Glycol, among other things, is a penetration enhancer, meaning it's a carrier for other chemicals, bringing them into your skin and directly to your bloodstream. It's also a suspected immune system toxin, neurotoxin, reproductive toxin, respiratory toxin, and skin toxin.

What type of products is it found in?
Over 7,800 products! Lotions, shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, deodorants, personal lubricants, sunscreens, styling gels, and hair colors.

A few companies that use this chemical:

Steph's Opinion:
For some reason, a lot of the "natural" brands think that it's okay to use propylene glycol. Despite the fact that it's anti-freeze! Not only is it anti-freeze, but it's used at the airport as de-icing fluid! After my appearance on Studio 5 a few months ago, a pilot wrote in to the station Here's what he said:

Yesterday, during your segment with Bubble and Bee, I had to shake my head when you talked about how some shower body washes contain the chemical propylene glycol. Your guest stated that it is a "penetration enhancer" and that it will go directly to your blood stream. I'm and airline pilot, based out of SLC, and the de-icing fluid that all airlines use to remove snow, frost and ice from their aircraft is mix of heated propylene glycol and water. For us,
the propylene glycol is listed as a hazardous material. If you get it on your skin and don't wash it off, it will irritate the skin, and you will get ill when it is absorbed.

I get so many customers who say that certain commercial deodorants that are supposedly natural cause underarm rashes. I tell them it's most likely the propylene glycol breaking down their skin cells and causing irritation.

Sources: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=705315
http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/summary.tcl?edf_substance_id=57-55-6#hazards

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