Thursday, November 11, 2010

Propylene Glycol - Good or Bad

Propylene Glycol. Are you familiar with this ingredient? You might be if you read labels as much as we do.

Over the last 2 years, I've realized that we use many products with chemicals and ingredients that are harmful, carcinogenic and just plain old "bad" to use. Some additives most definitely are harmful and should be avoided ALL the time, whereas others are sometimes harmful - depending on individual sensitivity and then, there are those that are only harmful in certain quantities. It's frustrating to learn that "the government" would allow and permit this to happen. But, happen it does. If you don't believe me,  go grab some of your skin care or make up products and start reading the labels. When you find an additive or ingredient that you are unfamiliar with, just look it up on your favorite search engine, or look it up at Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Data Base.

Toxic personal care products... it just doesn't sound right, and - it's not.

In fact, not only can this be frustrating, but - it can be downright discouraging. Angering. Is angering a word? It makes me mad and very, very sad. Can't ignore the truth. I can't anyway. Can you?
My big question is, " How much is too much?"  I do not have that answer.

Let's learn about propylene glycol and then decide if we can ignore this ingredient.  

Ok - so what exactly is propylene glycol anyway?
A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In the skin and hair, propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. The Material Safety Data Sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.  Ok, I swear I learned about this in cosmetology school back in the 80's...  duh.

Propylene glycol can commonly be found in:
  • makeup
  • shampoo
  • deodorant
  • conditioner or detangler
  • styling mousse
  • cleansing cream
  • mascara
  • soap
  • skin cream
  • bubble bath
  • baby powder
  • conditioner
  • toner
  • after shave
  • baby wipes
Also in:
  • Tire sealant
  • Rubber cleaner
  • De-icer
  • Stain removers
  • Fabric softener
  • Degreaser
  • Paint
  • Adhesives & glues
  • Wallpaper stripper

Somehow, these 2 lists do not seem to go together - and they shouldn't.  Right?

Just this week, I found propylene glycol on the label of coconut.  I made the macaroons anyway and served them at a Packer party last Sunday night.  They got rave reviews and I am not buying that coconut brand again.

This week, as I was arguing strongly discussing the ingredient tricolsan and reading labels with a friend, I found more propylene glycol.  I expect it on antibacterial soap, which is banned from our home, but - I do not want it in my coconut, just to keep it moist.  I'll get some new coconut tomorrow at Whole Foods.  Whole Foods rarely let me down!

I realize that most of us can probably handle eating propylene glycol, and most of us could use it on our skin too.  But, why would we?  Why would I want to eat natural gas?  *sigh*

For children with multiple allergies, sensitivities and other challenges, again I ask:  why would we?  During this time of "healing", I choose to limit what we are exposed to --  if I can control this exposure.

We buy and eat mostly organic food and try very hard to consume living food, raw food and pure water.  Why defeat this lifestyle with unhealthy chemical additives?  Really, I don't get it.  does this build up in our bodies?  Are there any (honest) studies showing the long term affects?  If PG is immediately absorbed and keeps things from drying out, what happens on a cellular level in our bodies and in our bloodstream?  I have never-ending questions, of course.  Why is this in wet/moist pet food?  Why are we using products with PG in them?

Wait!  I do get it!  Proplyne glycol is:
  • Cheap
  • Easy to make
  • Easy to get
  • It works - it does the job
  • Someone makes money off it!
Yeah - I get it...

If I weren't so tired from trying to regain our son's health, I would go back to school and further my education so that I can understand all the "why's".  For now, I will simply continue reading labels and making the best possible decisions for my family that I can.  What else can I do?  I do not have the answer as to whether this is a good or bad additive; however, I avoid it, if I can.

It's Veteran's Day...  say a prayer for those who are serving and those who have served.


  1. Propylene glycol serves as humectant and preservative for various food products. It is mixed in snacks, pastries, soda drinks, and ice cream. It serves as cooling agent for alcoholic beverages and extends freezing time further.

  2. Propylene glycol is a colorless, odorless, and a viscous liquid that is derived from natural gas and the bio diesel market. Glycol is completely safe when used properly. USP Propylene Glycol is used in food flavorings, cake mixes, salad dressings, popcorn, soft drinks, popcorn, ice cream and sour cream.