If you look at the back of the packaging of your skin care product you may see a chemical called butylene glycol? What is it and what does it do? With all the rage for natural skin care ingredients these days, seeing a chemical like this may turn some people off as this scientific compound name certainly doesn’t sound plant based or natural at all. However, just because an ingredient isn’t derived naturally it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have utility in skin care products. On this page I’ll detail what this chemical is and why it is so widely used in many of the anti aging treatments on the market today.
Usage of Butylene Glycol
There are a number of reasons why butylene glycol is a common additive in the formulation of many skin care products. The first is that it has penetrating qualities, helping the other active ingredients to get to the inner layers of the skin. While skin issues are seen on the surface, it is deep down in the inner layers where the root of the problem really is. For many skin care products, the molecular size is too large to permeate the skin and get absorbed in the inside layers, and the addition of butylene glycol increases the effectiveness of the product.
It is also added to change the consistency of the formula. Without the addition of butylene glycol, the product can be thick and clumpy and give a greasy feel. A thinner consistency is achieved with the inclusion of this ingredient which helps for smoother and more effective application of the cream or serum.
Thirdly, butylene glycol acts as an emulsifier, like many of the other ingredients I go into detail on this site. This means that it helps the other ingredients mix together, creating a more even texture throughout the formula.
Lastly, there are also humectant qualities which means it helps draw moisture from the skin as well as the outside environment. This restores hydration to the skin, an important part in producing healthy skin cells and smoothing out eye wrinkles and fine lines.
Products That Contain Butylene Glycol
There are countless products that use this ingredient and I’m sure you have it in many of the items you have in your medicine cabinet as part of your routine. Part of the reason is it is relatively cheap, compared to other ingredients that have the same qualities, but also because of the many aforementioned properties it has. You will most often find it in moisturizers, face masks, eye liner, acne treatments, sunscreen as well as hair care products.
While this ingredient is relatively safe to use in anti aging products, lending to its widespread use in many products, there is the possibility of skin irritations for those who have sensitive skin. Be sure to not get it in the eyes (or internally in general), but when used topically it is agreed upon by dermatologists to be safe for use. If you experience any adverse reactions to a product containing this, discontinue use and consult a dermatologist to help find a product right for you.