Dipropylene glycol is an organic compound derived from alcohol. It’s color free, with a minimal scent, high boiling point and very low toxicity. The ingredient is commonly used as a solvent in the cosmetics industry, and is often found in deodorants and perfumes, as well as various skin care products. It can function as a fragrance component, masking and/or thinning agent, to enhance a product’s feel and stability, or to increase the plasticity so that a product is more flexible.
When used as a solvent, dipropylene glycol breaks down certain ingredients in a formula without damaging other components, this can increase our skins ability to absorb ingredients. As a thinning agent, dipropylene glycol makes the formula easier to apply. In skin care products, this ingredient can be used to mask the odors of other ingredients, thin a products, or help keep ingredients stable.
Should dipropylene glycol be avoided?
There is a lot of confusion around dipropylene glycol, with some claiming the compound can be harmful and irritating to skin. However, the vast majority of these claims are made because of other types of glycol which can cause these side effects. The entire family of compounds is usually lumped together under an umbrella term of “harmful”. While some glycols can be harmful in specific concentrations, dipropylene glycol is not one of these and is itself virtually harmless.
Most glycols will cause some irritation if they get into our eyes, but the amount of impact varies depending on which variant is being used, however dipropylene glycol has very little recorded negative impacts on either humans or the environment. The chemical has a very low toxicity level and is never used in concentrations large enough to cause any problems. The FDA has even classed it as a safe indirect food ingredient.
The highest concentration of dipropylene glycol usually occurs within deodorants, but unless these come into contact with eyes, most people will see no harmful effects. For some with sensitive skin, these products could lead to some irritation.