Propanediol in Cosmetics: Is it Safe?

by Miral khattak

What Is Propanediol?

Propanediol (PDO) is often found in lotions, cleansers, other skin treatments, and other makeup and personal care items. It’s a chemical that is like propylene glycol but is considered safer.

But there have yet to be enough tests to say if it’s safe. But based on what we know now, it seems likely that topical PDO in makeup doesn’t pose a significant risk for harm.

PDO can be used in limited amounts of makeup in the US, Canada, and Europe. But does that mean it’s a sure thing? We’ll show you the proof and help you determine what’s best for you and your family. 

Where Does It Come From?

Any chemical from corn or oil can be used to make PDO. It might be clear or a little yellow. It doesn’t smell much. PDO will likely be mentioned as an ingredient in almost all beauty and personal care products. 

What Does It Do In Beauty Products? 

What Does It Do In Beauty Products? 

PDO is used in many ways, both around the house and in factories. It’s in many things, like skin creams, printer ink, and ice for cars.

Cosmetic makers use it as a moisturiser because it works well and doesn’t cost much. It can help your face quickly take in the other ingredients in your chosen product. It may also help water down other active ingredients.

What Kinds Of Makeup Does It Come In? 

What Kinds Of Makeup Does It Come In? 

  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says PDO is often found in face masks, creams, and serums. But it’s also in other personal care items, like deodorant, hair colour, eyeliner, and foundation. 

In What Form Does It Show Up On Ingredient Lists? 

  • Several different names are known as Propanediol. These are the most popular ones:
  • methyl propanediol propane 1,3-propanediol trimethyl glycol-1,3-diol
  • 1,3-dihydroxy propane
  • 2-polyglycerol 

Is It Not The Same As Propylene Glycol? 

PDO comes in two types: 1,3-propanediol and 1,2-propanediol, also called propylene glycol (PG). Even though these two chemicals are similar, this page is about 1,3-propanediol.

Recently, PG has been getting bad press as an ingredient in skin care products. Many people are worried about PG because it can irritate the eyes and face and is known to cause allergies in some people.

People believe that PDO is better than PG. Also, the molecular formulas for the two drugs are the same, but their molecular structures are different. That means they act in various ways when used.

Multiple skin and eye irritation and sensitization reports have been linked to PG. The research on PDO is less harmful. Because of this, many companies now use PDO instead of PG in their models.

How Safe Is Propanediol? 

Most people believe PDO is safe when taken through the skin in small amounts from cosmetics. EWG says that the health risks from PDO in makeup are low, even though it is known to irritate the skin.

A group of experts from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review looked at the latest information on Propanediol and decided it is safe to use in makeup.

When Propanediol was put on human skin, researchers only found signs of soreness in a few people.

In another study, it was shown that giving lab rats a high amount of Propanediol by mouth can kill them. But when rats breathed in a mist of Propanediol, they didn’t die or get seriously irritated.

Is It Likely To Cause Allergy Reactions?

Some animals and people have had skin sensitivity from PDO but not sensitization.

So, it doesn’t cause a reaction, though some people might feel irritated after using it. On top of that, PDO is less irritating than PG, which can sometimes cause allergic responses. 

Does It Affect The Nerves?

In one case, PDO was found to have contributed to the death of a person. In this case, though, a woman drank a lot of antifreeze that contained PDO on purpose.

It is not proven that the small amounts of Propanediol that can be taken through the skin from cosmetics can kill you. 

Is It Safe For Women Who Are Pregnant? 

So far, no good studies have been done on how PDO affects pregnancy in humans. However, when lab animals were given large amounts of PDO, there were no congenital disabilities or early terminations of pregnancies. 

In The End 

Currently, there is little risk in using makeup or personal care items that contain small amounts of Propanediol. Some people may get skin irritations after a lot of contact, but it doesn’t look like there is a risk for anything more serious.

Propanediol is a skincare ingredient rather than propylene glycol because it is healthier. 

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