Propanedial % use?

I read that propanedial is used from 1-10% but can be used all the way up to 40%! Do you know if there is a good starting % for a lotion formula? Was considering starting at 10% 


  • Is there a reason why you chose propanediol? It’s much more expensive than glycerin and both are used (in your case) as humectants, basically they do the same job. I would go with glycerin instead.

    Also, 10% is way too much. It has an affect on the viscosity of your emulsion (don’t remember if this one thickens and propylene glycol thins, but they have the same formula just a different arrangement of the atoms).

    I would use between 1-5% in a lotion, just like with glycerin. And I wouldn’t use both, one or the other.
  • GraillotionGraillotion Member
    edited June 2020
    I use it at 2%.  And brings some additional things to the table other than just humectancy.  Not all humectants work the same way... so there is something to be said for creating a synergy.
    You did not state your goal in including it.  That would help.
  • You can use propanediol as high as 95%. It's safe. The point is it's not going to feel nice. Re glycerin, true it does the same job but glycerin is sticky if I had to choose between 10% of glycerin or propanediol I would choose propanediol.
  • @ngarayeva001 agreed with all you said! But at less than 5% glycerine, it is likely not going to make much of a difference in terms of the feel of a lotion, but it will certainly reduce production costs.
  • @letsalcido tbh I’m not so sure that 3 or 4% glycerin would not impact the feel of a cream; I think it would since it is so sticky when compared to PG. 
  • @LuisJavier ;I made a lotion with 5% glycerin and it’s everything but sticky, it’s actually incredibly silky and quick absorbing. Probably dimethicone is counteracting the potential stickiness. Also looked at some big brand names and I extrapolated concentrations of about 3-5% from their ingredient list. Some lotions and creams I encountered had glycerin as their 3 rd or 4th ingredient.

    Point is, glycerine alone is definitely sticky. I guess to your point,  it’s very formulation dependent and maybe 3-5% can be sticky in general. I just haven’t had that experience, and it also hasn’t been part of the feedback I’ve got.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist

    You can use Propanediol at any percent you want ... it's all a matter of cost and sensorial.  In a Lotion, 2% should be just fine ... you'll get the added benefit of boosting your preservative in addition to moisturization.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Graillotion - what are the additional things that propanediol brings to the table beyond humectancy?  Also, what are the synergistic effects you are  referring to?

  • Can anyone advise on how propylene glycol affects a formula, I have been using 9% in my pomade which goes too thin and goey when broken down in the hands, would a different humectant work better?
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    for what it's worth, 1,2-diols and short-chain 1,3-diols (e.g. 1,3-propanediol) have antimicrobial effects at sufficiently high concentrations; the required concentration decreases as the carbon chain length increases
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • Thank you everyone for your responses. Im sorry I have not checked back since I last posted this. In all honesty I cant remember why I was formulating with propanedial at 10%  :/ I know with hair care in particular propanedial is sometimes preferred because in dryer climates many women claim glycerin dries their hair, so I assumed it may be the same for the skin. Im not a scientist so Idk if their are facts behind what they state, that the glycerine at drier climates may cause the atmosphere to rip moisture from you skin instead of providing you with moisture since there is not much in the air.
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