What's the deal with Propylene Glycol?

When we started our month of education around ingredients and buying habits in the beauty industry, we knew propylene glycol needed its own section. What is it? Where is it found? Why is it used? What does it do?  As a common ingredient in deodorant, propylene glycol is used as an emulsifier to create a smooth application feeling. Completely soluble in water, it serves as a vehicle for topical products such as lotion, deodorants, shampoo, and conditioner. Did you know it’s also an ingredient in antifreeze? 

So what’s the big deal?

According to the FDA, long-term use and substantial quantities of propylene glycol (up to five percent of the total intake) can be consumed without causing toxicity (1). So no harm no foul, right? Wrong. In large doses propylene glycol can be toxic (2). Think back to when we told you how an ingredient list works: All ingredients on products are listed in order of predominance. The ingredient used in the greatest amount is listed first, followed by the next ingredient, and the next, all in descending order.  That means that if a product’s ingredients list starts with something like propylene glycol, then almost 50 per cent of that product is made with it, making that small dose a larger one. Now think of your lotion, shampoo, ointment, and more. Do they all contain this ingredient? Are you layering all of them on daily? While there are many differing opinions in research concerning the toxicity of propylene glycol, a fair amount of that research points in the direction of this compound having negative effects when administered in large doses.

The dangers of propylene glycol (3)

 Can you imagine one singular ingredient potentially causing so many issues? We can.
  • Skin irritation and allergic reactions are common to those allergic to the chemical.
  • It can be toxic to the liver and kidneys for those who may already have poor liver function and are unable to break down the compound.
  • Propylene glycol is unsafe for infants and pregnant women as it’s harder for them to break down the ingredient.
  • Cardiovascular issues and heart disease symptoms have been commonly associated with propylene glycol exposure.

How to stay safe

Keep your mind at ease and your body clear of toxins by checking ingredient labels and purchasing beauty products that are free from harmful chemicals and additives. Many natural deodorants, yes, “natural,” still contain propylene glycol, making it important for you to do your homework. This is why Nala is proudly Free-From. Free-from propylene glycol and a whole list of ingredients that you’ll never find in our products.   
Resources:
  1. “Propylene Glycol (Inactive Ingredient).” Drugs.com, www.drugs.com/inactive/propylene-glycol-270.html.
  2. “Propylene Glycol.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Propylene-glycol.
  3. Edwards, Rebekah. “Surprise! You're Eating a Component of Antifreeze! (And Here's What It Does to Your Body).” Dr. Axe, 8 Apr. 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/propylene-glycol/.
  4. “Toxic Substances Portal.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=240.
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