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Butylene Glycol in Skin Care – Is It Safe?

Butylene Glycol in Skin Care

Meticulous skin care regimens are gaining popularity day by day. 

With so many skincare 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!

“Butylene glycol” is one of the ingredients we see a lot on skincare product labels. But is it safe to regularly use butylene glycol in skin care?

The CIR, FDA, and WHO have stated that butylene glycol is safe to use and considered the most friendly of all glycols! 

Let’s take a deep dive to find out how and why.

Table of Contents

Is Butylene Glycol safe?


Butylene Glycol is SAFE as approved by The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), the FDA, and the World Health Organization. 

Many have expressed concern and skepticism around Butylene glycol in skincare products for many years. 

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

The EWG rates butylene glycol at 1 out of 10 (10 being the most hazardous) on the “danger scale”, having the lowest possible hazard rating. 

It’s typically mixed in with amino acids in skincare products for optimal results.

Butylene Glycol vs. Consumers

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

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

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.

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.

What is Butylene Glycol?

What is

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 can find butylene glycol listed in products such as serums, moisturizers, lotions, sheet masks, toothpaste, shampoos, and cleansers.

What are the benefits of Butylene Glycol?

1. Alcohol ingredients in skincare 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.

Butylene glycol creates a barrier on the skin, preventing water loss.

The emollient effect is the desirable softening and conditioning of skin.

Skincare 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 skincare 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 used in skincare 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.

Butylene Glycol VS Propylene Glycol

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

Propylene glycol is also derived from petroleum and are colorless liquids. They function similarly and are used in skincare products for the same reasons. 

However, based on a number of consumer surveys, many had complications and skin irritations with Propylene Glycol. 

In fact, Propylene Glycol was named the “Allergen of the Year in 2018”.

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

The EWG rates propylene glycol at 3 out of 10 on the “danger scale”, compared to butylene glycol rating of only 1. 

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

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:

Cosmedica Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Skin


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.

EltaMD UV Daily Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 40


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.

Nature's Gate Natural Tea Tree Lotion


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.

COSRX Low PH Good Morning Cleanser


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! You can also use it with the COSRX Centella Blemish Cream.

Boscia Natural Activated Black Charcoal Peel-Off Mask


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

Final Thoughts

Butylene Glycol is a popular ingredient used in skincare products. In fact, it’s where most Glycolic Acid products are derived from.

Many studies prove it is safe for most people to use even on a daily basis. 

Its properties have greatly improved the quality of skincare 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, Butylene Glycol may cause irritations to those with sensitive skin.

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

For more questions, feel free to hit us up. We will answer them the best we can!


August 23, 2021 – Updated article formatting and content

July 21, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

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.