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Today's Chemical:


EWG Risk Score:


What is it?

Propanediol is a clear, thick liquid used in formulas to control viscosity. Also known as 1,3 propylene glycol, it is an isomer of the more widely-used chemical, propylene glycol. 

Is it a risk?

Propanediol does not appear to pose any significant risks when used diluted in a cosmetic formula, based on current research. However, the manufacturing of propanediol does pose potential environmental and health concerns. It can be produced from acrolein, a compound found in cigarette smoke that may contribute to lung cancer. (Source) While this wouldn't pose a risk in the finished product of propanediol, there may be exposures to workers and the environment, especially if produced in countries with less-than-stringent working and environmental regulations. 

You may also see propanediol created from "natural" sources. The most widely-distributed form is made by DuPont Chemical, created from (most likely GMO) corn syrup and a genetically-modified strain of e coli bacteria. (Source)

It can also be produced from fermenting glycerol with genetically modified bacteria. (Source)

Can be a skin allergen. (Source)

Steph's Opinion:

Propanediol as a finished ingredient doesn't pose significant health risks unless you have an allergy to the ingredient. However, when you see propanediol in a product marketed as "natural," think GMOs because it has most likely been created with either genetically-modified bacteria or from GMO corn (or both.) 

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Reader Comments (2)

My husband got a terrible reaction to a deodorant based on this ingredient. When I read negative reviews on that and similar products, I could find many more examples of such bad reaction. It burned his skin! He got small blisters and terrible redness.
I recommend that everyone stay away from this ingredient that can be a strong irritant.
I did a lot of research on this ingredient and also found DuPont as the main producer, that should be a red flag on its own.

Mon, March 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDana

The ingredient propanediol caused severe blisters . I believe more people than you know are allergic to this awful ingredient. I’m sure most people are slowly learning that these chemicals have many names they can go by to fool the public that it is natural. What a joke!

Tue, March 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

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