Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Natural Replacement for Butylene Glycol & Propylene Glycol

  • Natural Replacement for Butylene Glycol & Propylene Glycol

    Posted by Sailor on April 27, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Hello Everyone,

    Is there anyone who can help me out with a replacement for these ingredients?
    I am using this in my skincare line (all natural without petroleum based chemicals) for body moisturizer.
    Is 1,3 Propandiol a better choice or which one is more natural and organic.
    Help appreciated.
    Sailor replied 9 years, 1 month ago 7 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • MarkBroussard

    April 27, 2015 at 7:47 pm


    Zemea 1,3-Propanediol (from Tate, Lyle & Dupont) is a plant-derived, renewable resource alternative to Propylene Glycol and complies with ECOcert and other natural standards.  You can’t go wrong using it.
  • belassi

    April 27, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Seconded. It is the solvent for an ingredient in some of our lines and it has great sensorials, I seem to recall that it enhances preservative efficacy, also. A bit pricey, though.

  • Bobzchemist

    April 27, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Agree with Zemea as the best alternative.

    How do you define “natural”?
    Do you know what it means for something to be called “organic” in this context?
  • Zink

    April 28, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Propylene Glycol can be found as food grade and is used in certain foods/supplements, it’s metabolized into pyruvic acid, acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde.

    Now question is, what does 1,3-Propenediol metabolize to? One study suggests, 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde, malondialdehyde, or 3-hydroxypropionic acid, malonic semi-aldehyde, malonic acid, and ultimately, carbon dioxide and water. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/12/2013-13823/13-propanediol-exemptions-from-the-requirement-of-a-tolerance

    So it could very well be that 1,3-Propanediol is relatively less safe than Propylene Glycol (albeit probably not at levels that matter for skin care applications). Something to consider.

  • MarkBroussard

    April 28, 2015 at 11:28 am


    Correct, Zemea added at 6% have been proven to boost preservative efficacy.
  • Bobzchemist

    April 28, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Also, ADM makes a completely “natural” (i.e. 100% vegetable derived feedstock) Propylene Glycol.

  • Pharma

    April 30, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    You could also use glycerol… With regard to formulations, one could say it’s the grandfather of glycols although IMHO it’s inferior in many regards. To my knowledge, there are no real alternatives which cover all aspects and advantages of glycols. Though, depending on what you want to do with them or which of their activities/effects you want to mimic, you should be able to find natural (i.e. commonly found in nature) replacements. Like urea, glycerol, PCA, NMF and the like as moisturiser/humectant or glycerol and ethanol for their self-preservating and co-solvation effects (at high enough concentrations). But the skin feeling and texture etc. won’t be the same.

    Besides, that something is natural derived (i.e. from a renewable, non-petrochemical source) does neither mean it’s “natural”, that the synthesis employed is “green”, nor that the product is eco-friendly and bio-degradable ;) . True, in case of propylene glycols, at least the latter two are true.
    Glycols are rarely found in nature but the simple structure especially of propylene glycols (i.e. 1,2- and more so 1,3-propanediol) makes it very likely (I have to admit, I do not know for certain but think that it actually is the case) that these do indeed occur as side products in trace amounts for example in natural microbial metabolism. Propanediols produced on an industrial level by fermentation isn’t exactly natural; from what I understand, DuPont for example uses genetically modified microorganisms for this process like elaborated for example in this publication http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9496676

  • rubzilla

    April 30, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Please note that the word “organic” is regulated and involves a good deal of organic certs and audits. “Made with organics” is not regulated but be sure to have your certs verifying authenticity. The word “natural” is not regulated and Eco Cert lists are a good place to find acceptable ingredients for global distribution but if you want to sell as a regulated product in the US please be sure to review NSF and NPA standards which do not always overlap with Eco Cert.

  • Sailor

    May 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks Everyoe

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