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everything you need to know about propanediol in skin care products

You may have seen Propanediol pop up in your palm-free skincare products, but what exactly is it?

everything you need to know about propanediol in skin care products

Propanediol in skincare products is colourless liquid glycol that’s derived from corn and a renewably sourced alternative to petroleum-derived glycols like Propylene Glycol.

Propanediol was originally introduced to BNB formulas because it is a palm-free alternative to Propylene Glycol. It has helped form our water-based serums without using a palm petroleum-derived propylene glycol. 

So unlike its substitute Propylene glycol, Propanediol is safer to use and if you suffer from allergies or skin conditions whatsoever, you have got no worries with this one.

So let’s take you through everything you need to know about Propanediol in skin products and ask the question, is propanediol safe for the skin?


Fast facts 

Made from: Corn sugar.
Palm Free: Yes
Vegan: Yes
  • Propanediol works as a solvent, moisture-retaining, and an emollient substance in skincare products. Well, that explains why the skin can easily absorb it.

  • If you are looking for a safer option to using propylene glycol, propanediol tops the chart. It leaves your skin feeling pampered.

  • You can use propanediol regularly. As much as you want as long as you don’t get irritated by using it.

  • It can be used in different serums, moisturisers, toners, creams, eye oils, etc. Just look out for products that have it and feed your skin some luxury. 

  • Propanediol works with most ingredients if not all and this makes it a plus.

Now, What is Propanediol In Skin Care?

Propanediol is obtained from fermenting corn sugar and this fermentation technique converts glucose or maize sugar to 100% bio-based 1,3-propanediol. 

This replaces Propylene glycol (PG), butylene glycol (BG), and glycerine which are all petroleum-based glycols. So it is safe to say that propanediol is a palm-free alternative to propylene glycol.

Propanediol is also water-soluble, meaning it will completely dissolve in water. And there are no preservatives, petroleum-based additives, or animal by-products in this product. 

It has a more appealing appearance. You would find it in cosmetics, and almost all skincare and hair care products you can think of. The best part is that it is vegan and plant-based. This makes propanediol safe for the skin. 

Fact is, propanediol in skincare products is widely accepted throughout Europe and Oceania. So, you can trust your skin goals with this one.

How Is It Made?

Propanediol is made from dried corn kernels that have been prepared for wet-milling so the sugar-rich starch can be extracted. 

The kernels are soaked in hot water and mild acid to loosen the corn's shell and release the starch. This is followed by grinding, screening, and centrifugation to separate the starch from the protein.

From starch, sugar is obtained and this serves as a starting material to make propanediol. At this point, the corn sugar is fermented with a microorganism. 

After fermenting, the propanediol is then purified and refined. Propanediol can also be obtained from propylene oxide or propylene glycol.



A lot of companies are adopting corporate sustainability initiatives including a life cycle assessment (LCA) to measure the environmental impact of their manufacturing process. The amount of energy they consume and the number of greenhouse gases they release will be measured by LCA.

Propanediol is produced through the process of recycling corn, which is more energy-efficient than conventional petrochemical processes. And to support this, a cradle-to-gate LCA was carried out using design data for the glycol substitute. 

The study's findings show that glycol replacement has considerable environmental benefits over Propylene glycol. This includes notably reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy usage in its manufacture.

So it is safe to say that propanediol has a smaller environmental impact, lower operating costs, and greater sustainability since it is derived from renewable corn.

Because it is a highly pure, food-grade substance, it is frequently used in our gel toothpaste and mouthwashes, along with glycerine, to aid in creating consistency and stability.


What Are The Benefits Of Propanediol For Your Skin

Apart from being a super cool skin moisturiser, there are other propanediol skincare benefits. Some of them are:

1# It Acts As a Solvent 
Propanediol is an excellent solvent for compounds that are hard to dissolve. This includes ferulic acid and salicylic acid. Propanediol can dissolve practically any substance, which is necessary for proper application.

It's been quite beneficial in improving the composition of various product formulas.

2# Boosts Humectancy
As a very good moisture-retaining product, propanediol leaves the skin smooth. No flaky skin here. 

3# Serves As a Good Moisturiser.
For a very nice humectant, propanediol would pass as a good moisturiser.

Propanediol, when used in hair and body products, promotes moisture. And at 5%, outperforms propylene glycol and butylene glycol. 

Propanediol has a synergistic impact with glycerine. This reduces the tackiness of glycerine while increasing moisture levels. It has a low tendency to irritate or sensitise skin at concentrations up to 75%.

4# It Improves Viscosity 
Propanediol boosts the clarity and viscosity of surfactant systems. Many products having Propanediol in them only need a little salt to thicken them.

It also makes flash foam better and creates more beautiful systems with creamier lather and denser foam. This quality makes propanediol great for skins prone to acne.

5# Gives a Light And Cleaner Feel After Use
Propanediol also contributes to the consistency of skincare products. So, you get a light non-sticky feel after use. You don't have to worry about irritants after use.

It provides a cleaner feeling after rinsing while enhancing moisturise. It improves detangling, reduces static in hair products. It also improves wet and dry combing in them. You would find it in most shampoos, conditioners, leave-in conditioners, or styling aids.

6# It Is Biodegradable
Propanediol is a glycol that occurs free in nature. It is 100% bio-based and biodegradable. This serves as a green substitute for glycol propylene. And like we have mentioned before, it is much safer than glycol propylene.

It is very much biodegradable so it doesn't pose a problem or pollutant to the environment.

Propanediol vs Propylene Glycol

Although propylene glycol and propanediol are sometimes confused as the same thing, they are very different. Propylene glycol is a synthetic alternative for propanediol. So, they are not only structurally distinct, but their origins are also distinct.

Although propylene glycol is seen as safe in most cosmetics, propanediol is extensively used as a glycol-free substitute.

Propanediol is safer than propylene glycol in many studies. After using propanediol, very few persons have reported skin discomfort or sensitivity.

Did we mention that propanediol is a plant-based, palm-free alternative to glycol? And that it’s produced from corn? Whereas, propylene glycol is synthesised from petrochemicals.

Propylene Glycol

  • Derived mainly from a petrochemical, Propylene Oxide from natural gas.
  • Flashpoint of 99.04C (this is the temperature at which the vapours would form an ignitable mixture in the air)
  • May cause skin irritation.


  • Derived from sustainable and renewable corn sugar fermentation.
  • Manufacturing Propanediol produces approximately 40% fewer greenhouse gasses than the manufacturing of Propylene Glycol according to life cycle analysis from design data by Dupont Tate & Lyle
  • Propanediol has a low potential to irritate or sensitise the skin and the potential for these effects are lower than Propylene Glycol

Are There Any Side Effects?

Propanediol is safe to use in skincare products if you don't have an allergy to it. It is approved by Ecocert™ and by the Natural  Products  Association (NPA), so you don't have to worry.

Meanwhile, always patch test a new product on a tiny area of skin before putting it all over your body. Although some people may experience minor irritation, there are no major adverse effects.


Who Shouldn't Use It?

If you have a known allergy or intolerance to propanediol, stay away from it. Also, if you're sensitive to propylene glycol, it's a good idea to be cautious with propanediol. It's always wise to do a patch test first!



Propanediol is an emollient, humectant, and solvent with no known negative effects. Also, propanediol has the potential to be a safer alternative to propylene glycol. It also leaves your skin feeling clean, soft, and smooth, as well as glowing naturally. What’s not to love about it?

In rare cases, it might irritate some people but it's way way better than its cousin glycol propylene. Just make sure you double-check on the ingredients.

With all this in check, you can now enjoy all propanediol skin benefits. So what are you waiting for, dear Aussie? It's time to live out some skin goals!


References Natural Glycol Replacement For Hair And Skin (PDF), R. Miller, Joseph W. Desalvo Published 2010.