Propylene Glycol: To Use or Not to Use?
A widely used chemical with a broad spectrum of usages, propylene glycol has become a centerpiece for conversation among those who dispute the inclusion of certain synthetic chemicals and toxins in products meant for the skin or ingestion. Propylene glycol presents itself as a mystery chemical, with beauty and cosmetic bloggers – both those who prefer natural products and those who have no preference – disputing the safety of this additive.
Well, there is reason for dispute – on both sides. Unfortunately, very little evidence exists to support the statement that propylene glycol is actually a toxin. In fact, no evidence that we found suggests that it is even a carcinogen – as no studies link it to cancer formation either in animals or humans. However, as with genetically modified foods, it is this very lack of evidence that may make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Little evidence exists because the studies completed only used animals for subjects. Thus, we have no scientifically based information regarding humans.
However, propylene glycol does create a disturbing link between antifreeze and food or cosmetic products. And skimming over consequences that occurred within the animal studies do suggest that one could classify this chemical as a potential toxin. Plus, we did find some evidence that suggests propylene glycol could act as an allergen that may cause your allergic condition to worsen with exposure. This face naturals exclusive will provide you with the details you need to decide for yourself: to use or not to use? That is the question that we hope you will find an answer to.
A Glance at Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol, a chemical with a history over fifty years old, has multiple grades – some less concentrated than others. The more concentrated spectrum of propylene glycol grades are often used in antifreeze products, like substances meant to de-ice runways and aircrafts before take-off. Also used in cars, propylene glycol makes an appearance in multiple cosmetic and food products in a less concentrated form.
The different concentrations of propylene glycols are created by reacting propylene oxide with water. The less-concentrated versions go into multiple products available on the general market, including food, food packing, animal feeds, skin-care products, and makeup. In fact, over four thousand different cosmetic products contain propylene glycol. You may also discover it in pharmaceuticals.
The colorless, odorless, and tasteless nature of propylene glycol makes it extremely difficult to detect in the environment and body. To manufacturers, this makes it useful in the aforementioned products as a thickener, clarifier, and stabilizer. You may find it in salad dressings and beers for these reasons. In cakes, sweets, and flavored drinks, it offers an aid in preserving the taste and smell. It also contributes to the thick consistency desired for body lotions. Propylene glycol even provides lipsticks with their signature texture. You can find it in almost anything that you put on your skin, including perfumes, soaps, mouthwashes, shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, baby wipes – basically everything.
Tell-Tale Evidence of Potential Toxicity
Evidence exists that suggests that propylene glycol may be absorbed through the skin into the blood stream, through ingestion, and inhalation. With the ease of absorption and low ability for detection, propylene glycol has raised the eyebrows of many individuals interested in naturally created skin-care products. However, as mentioned before, little evidence is available to the public regarding the toxicology of this chemical in reference to human beings. No scientists performed clinical tests of propylene glycol on humans, so no results are available.
We can, however, use the disclosed evidence available on animals to help us make up our minds on whether or not to use products that contain propylene glycol. Bear in mind that the effects of any given chemical may differ among any given species. While the jury is ultimately still out on the toxicity of this chemical as far the United States is concerned, remember that Europe has limited its usage even further, restricting it as an addition to any food or cosmetic-grade products.
In one study performed on twenty nine monkeys over the course of thirteen months, thirteen of the monkeys deceased from exposure to vaporized propylene glycol. All the monkeys involved inhaled the substance for the specified amount of time. Additionally, an experiment performed on rabbits showed evidence of cell degeneration in the trachea of the animals that inhaled a concentration of up to ten percent for twenty to one hundred and twenty minutes. A group of rats exposed to a vaporized version of propylene glycol experienced nasal hemorrhaging.
Another study provided evidence of decreased white blood cells in female rats after inhaling the chemical, and a decrease in the weight of the kidneys for both male and female rats. Additionally, rats also experienced a decline in their original body weight by about fifty percent after thirteen months of consistently inhaling the chemical.
The above studies are of the few available regarding propylene glycol’s effects on the animal body. However, no evidence is available regarding links to cancer, or other dysfunction and disruption in the human body. And while this evidence may seem somewhat irrelevant, the fact this is the only existing evidence after fifty years of using this chemical paints a disturbing picture. If propylene glycol can cause these issues in animals, what can it do to humans? After all, we are the ones continuously exposed to this chemical through food and skin-care products for most of our lives.
Handling the Human Factor
We do know a few things about how our bodies handle propylene glycol. First of all, repeated contact with human skin can become a source for irritation, especially over time. In fact, contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth can prove to make this chemical a common irritant. Studies performed decades ago suggest some toxic effects from this substance after repeatedly administering it to the skin, or eating it.
Of additional interest, propylene glycol may be responsible for the rise in contact eczema as of late. Some reports show that patch tests performed with the substance contacting the skin may induce an allergic reaction similar to that of contact eczema. Thus, with evidence of its effect on animals alongside the uncertainty of how the human body reacts to it, do you really want to trust your skin to this substance? To use or not to use. That is the question.
Trust Face Naturals for Trusty Organic Ingredients
For skin-care products that you know you can trust, purchase from the face naturals catalogue. We do not use any chemical ingredients or substances lacking proper scientific and historical backing regarding the application to your skin. Make a selection from a whole range of organically botanical products that will restore your natural beauty and glow.
We pride ourselves on our integrity at ensuring that your skin-care products contain only the best, and most trustworthy ingredients. The goal of your face naturals family is to keep you informed about the products you decide to use – whether they are from us or another brand. Contact us with any questions regarding our products and information. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
- Toxicological Profile for Propylene Glycol
- Propylene Glycol
- Contact Eczema Induced by Propylene Glycol
- Propylene Glycol: The Good, the Bad, and the Alternatives