Is propylene glycol natural?

You can find propylene glycol on the component list of just about any cosmetic you pick up off the rack in your restroom. Although it’s widely used in beauty products, many questions remain about its actual purpose, safety, and origin.

Propylene glycol (sometimes labeled as 1,2-propanediol) seems to do it all, across a variety of product categories, and this may be where the misunderstanding arises. It acts as a humectant, a moisturizer, a skin booster, and a stabilizer. Its primary function is as a nutritious foundation, where it helps distribute other components and creates a velvety feel in finished goods. Its smooth texture and moisturizing properties make it a popular ingredient among makeup scientists.

Even conscientious shoppers can’t make heads or tails of the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database classification of “3” for propylene glycol and the fact that it’s in seemingly all of their “clean” personal care goods. (fair). Propylene glycol, an ingredient in CORPUS, has been synthesized from plants in recent years. Due to its relative infancy, bio-based propylene glycol is still not widely used. However, the distinctions between conventional propylene glycol and the sustainable base material of the same name used in CORPUS formulas have not been addressed by worldwide study and advocate organizations like the EWG. Although thousands of products have proven propylene glycol’s safety in personal care, there is rising customer expectation that chemicals should be environmentally friendly as well as safe and effective. In the future years, the EWG and others will clarify their distinctions, educating customers on how these components are distinctive despite having a moniker.


Originally, propylene glycol was synthesized from propylene oxide, another hydrocarbon. However, a plant-based variant made from veggie oils has been developed thanks to advances in green science. Hydrogenolysis, in which glycerin and hydrogen combine under extreme conditions, yields bio-based propylene glycol. While both types of propylene glycol are essentially similar and perform the same purpose in the end product, they are constructed differently. One could compare it to climbing a peak. The production of propylene glycol is an example of how multiple paths can lead to the same destination.


You might be wondering why you should bother switching to bio-based propylene glycol if it’s the same thing. CORPUS’s dedication to ethical and open procurement practices is the key. Traditional propylene glycol production consumes an estimated seven million gallons of gasoline per year. Propylene glycol made by CORPUS is derived from low-carbon, sustainable resources like maize and sugar cane. When compared to propylene glycol made through petroleum refining, its manufacturing results in a 61% decrease in GHG emissions. Choosing bio-based propylene glycol over its petroleum-based equivalent was a simple decision for CORPUS because it lessens our culture’s dependence on energy and has a much smaller carbon dioxide effect. The origin of raw materials is crucial.


Bio-based propylene glycol uses organically obtained basic materials, but the final product is not considered “natural” because it is synthesized from simpler chemicals. Bio-based propylene glycol is not derived from plants, but it does contain 100% bio-based carbon. Learn more about how CORPUS classifies “natural” here if you’re intrigued.


When used as directed, propylene glycol in cosmetics and toiletries poses no health risks. Propylene glycol in the forms used in cosmetics and personal care products is safe to use, according to reputable study groups like The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board. CORPUS conducts a clinical primary skin irritation assessment (PI test) on its goods during production and finds no evidence of cutaneous discomfort.

Some people in the “clean beauty” community believe falsehoods that propylene glycol is harmful because it increases cutaneous permeation and is a skin sensitizer. To begin, cutaneous absorption through the skin is not something to worry about because it is minimal and is either converted to lactic acid or excreted in the urine. The FDA agrees that propylene glycol is safe enough to use in food products, giving it the designation of GRAS. Absolutely, it’s edible. Second, when used at the right quantity, propylene glycol poses almost no threat of cutaneous discomfort when applied to healthy skin.