Skincare Ingredients to Avoid, Part 8: Propyl Alcohol

It’s a dangerous toxin. Chemists and lab technicians are encouraged to use gloves, protective eyewear, and extreme caution when handing it. So why is this ingredient in our cosmetics and skin care products?

Ingredient Propyl alcohol in skin care

The Ugly Truth

Retailers like products with a long shelf life because this gives them a larger window of opportunity to sell. Manufacturers want to please their distributors, so many beauty and personal care producers incorporate preservatives into their products, in order to increase the shelf life. This may put more money in the pockets of manufacturers and retailers, but it is not good news for consumers. Propyl alcohol is a prevalent preservative used in skin care and personal products, and it is highly toxic.

Some side effects of propyl alcohol poisoning include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Mental depression
  • Narcosis

While these symptoms are more common when propyl alcohol is ingested or applied in larger amounts, it can still be harmful even in the small amounts used in your body lotion. Since manufacturers don’t always call it by the name ‘propyl alcohol’, it is best to avoid any ingredients that contain “prop” in the name at all.

Where it May be Hiding

If you’re ready to do away with propyl alcohol in your personal care regimen, here are the products that are most likely to contain it:

  • Shampoo
  • Cream rinse
  • Hair spray
  • Shaving lotion
  • Body lotion
  • Lipstick
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Make-up
  • Nail polish
  • Mouth wash

Remember, not all alcohols are bad! Look instead for hydrating “fatty” alcohols like cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol. You can also find a range of skin and personal care products that are free of propyl alcohol in the Living Clean store.

Read more about skin care ingredients to avoid in our Knowledge Base.




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