July 29, 2020

Butylene Glycol in Skin Care – Is It Safe?


KryzUy.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Meticulous skin care regimens are gaining popularity day by day.

With so many products to choose from, deciding on what best suits you is a big deal.

Knowing what’s safe and healthy for your skin must be your top priority!

Everytime I visit my neighborhood drugstore, I always make sure to read the back labels of my personal skin care products.

I admit, some ingredients aren’t too familiar to me. Intimidating-sounding chemicals make me wonder if they could possibly be dangerous.

“Butylene glycol” is one of the ingredients I see a lot on product labels. It’s a popular ingredient we find in most of the products we already use daily.

Studies show it is safe to use and considered the most friendly of all glycols. I’ll discuss this further more in this post. But first…

Table of Contents

What is Butylene Glycol?

Butylene Glycol is a natural alcohol derived from petroleum. The compound is a colorless, water-soluble liquid. It does not have large scale uses.

It is typically used in various personal care products like Skin Care, Hair Care and Colour Cosmetics.

You find them in products such as serums, moisturisers, lotions, sheet masks, toothpaste, shampoos, and cleansers.

What are the benefits of Butylene Glycol?

1. Alcohol ingredients in skin care products make good humectant moisturisers. 

This means that it can hold onto water longer to keep your skin and hair hydrated. This is good news because hydrated skin cells play a role in anti-aging and anti-wrinkling!

2. Apart from being a humectant, Butylene Glycol also functions as an emollient.

It creates a barrier on the skin, preventing water loss. The effect is the desirable softening and conditioning of skin. Products with this ingredient will leave you with a silkier and smoother texture.

3. Butylene Glycol is also used as a penetration enhancer. 

Because of its water-soluble qualities, it helps dissolve ingredients applied on the skin. Most products have heavy active ingredients that just end up sitting on the skin’s surface.

With Butylene Glycol as a solvent, ingredients mix better. This boosts the overall penetration and effectiveness of the product, giving you your money’s worth.

Butylene Glycol is sometimes included in skin care products to create thinner consistency as well.

Thick creams can often feel greasy and uncomfortable for some users. A thinner cream will save you a lot of time dissipating the product on skin.

Viscosity control and texture are factors often considered when users plan to buy something.
Everyone looks for a pleasant product application experience and this ingredient definitely improves it.

Butylene Glycol VS Propylene Glycol

If you’ve done a few searches on Butylene Glycol, you probably also encountered Propylene Glycol. 

Both are compounds derived from petroleum and are colorless liquids. They function similarly and are used in products for the same reasons. However, based on a number of consumer surveys, many had complications and skin irritations with Propylene Glycol. 

In fact, it was named the “Allergen of the Year in 2018” (For more details, read more about “Propylene Glycol in Contact Dermatitis” here!)

Because of this, many brands opted to remove Propylene Glycol from their formulas and liberally considered Butylene Glycol as the best alternative. 

It’s much safer to use for consumers, without sacrificing quality and effectiveness of product use.


Is Butylene Glycol safe?

Many have expressed concern and skepticism around Butylene and Propylene glycol for many years. 

The EWG rates propylene glycol at 3 out of 10 (10 being the most hazardous) on the “danger scale”, and butylene glycol at the lowest possible hazard rating of only 1. We know that the latter is significantly safer to use.

It is also good to note that Butylene Glycol has been approved as safe by The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), the FDA, and the World Health Organization. 

Studies have proved no harmful effects from this compound, labeling it as non-toxic and non-irritating. 


Butylene Glycol vs. Consumers

Generally, Butylene Glycol has not caused a lot of problems for most consumers. 

Oftentimes, people with very sensitive skin encounter skin irritations especially when using Butylene Glycol in higher concentrations though.

Some have shared experiences of irritation when applied near the eyes as well.

If you have very sensitive skin and opt to use products containing natural ingredients instead of Butylene Glycol, note that those too can cause possible irritations.

The most common problematic ingredients are bee pollen, citrus oils, tea tree oils, and other botanical extracts.

It is possible to have an allergy on nearly any ingredient so Butylene Glycol is no exemption.

The possibility of it causing allergies and irritation is at the same level as other common irritants. But it is still fairly uncommon though.

We recommend a visit to your trusted dermatologist for professional advice in case these matters arise.

Is Butylene Glycol safe during pregnancy?

There are not enough studies on the effects of Butylene Glycol on pregnant women.

A study was conducted on pregnant rats back in 1985 that had negative effects on the developing animal though. It observed changes in neural and liver protein synthesis on the rat offspring.

This all boils down to personal choice. Although, most people do recommend that you completely stay away from all glycol and petroleum products during pregnancy.

It is best to avoid as much chemical exposure as possible especially during these sensitive times so stay away, just to be sure.

Can Butylene Glycol cause acne?

Butylene Glycol is considered a comedogenic ingredient. This means that it’s likely to clog pores and cause acne, blackheads, or whiteheads.

If you have acne prone skin, it is advisable to be extra careful with products containing comedogenic ingredients. For example, people with acne would prefer non-comedogenic moisturizers to keep their skin hydrated. 

It will really come down to individual skin type and product formulation.

In the case of Butylene Glycol, it is only rated a category 1 on the comedogenic scale (where ingredients in category 0 will not clog pores, and category 5 being the highest probability to clog pores). 

Thus, it is not likely that Butylene Glycol will be a cause of concern for breakouts.

Recommended Products that Contain Butylene Glycol

Butylene glycol can be found in literally thousands of skin care products.

The main reason being it having multifunctional effects on the skin. Here are some you can buy on the market:

This hydrating facial moisturizer also has anti-aging skin care properties.

It is sure to give you the plump and healthy looking complexion you desire! Apart from being hydrating, this serum tightens pores to give a youthful appearance to your skin.

It also treats pigmentation issues.

This sunscreen is perfect for normal and combination skin types alike. 

It offers potent protection and moisturization. It also boosts moisture retention and diminishes fine lines on your skin.

This Tea Tree Lotion softens skin with its gentle blend of Blue Cypress oil, and Jojoba. 

It’s great for all skin types. 

It is also vegan, non-GMO, paraben-free and gluten-free. This lotion is sure to provide daily moisture and protection for your beautiful skin.

This well-loved face cleanser is no exception!

The formula is meant to rebalance the skin’s PH by keeping it acidic. Acidic PH keeps dirt and bacteria from developing into acne.

This product is also recommended even for sensitive skin!

This Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask makes your skin feel luminous, clean, and refreshed. 

The activated charcoal detoxifies and gently removes oil and dirt off your pores. It is sure to nourish and refine your skin!

Final Thoughts

Butylene Glycol is a popular ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products.

Many studies prove it is safe for most people to use even on a daily basis. Its properties have greatly improved the quality of skin care products. They are great at conditioning and softening both your hair and skin.

However, we do not discount the fact that a small number of people could possibly be allergic to Butylene Glycol. Although it is a rare occurrence, it’s best to be cautious if you have sensitive skin.

I hope I’ve shed some light and relevant knowledge on Butylene Glycol in skin care.

For more questions, feel free to hit me up. I will answer them the best I can!

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.