Many observers and commentators from outside the cosmetics industry often highlight the fact that propylene glycol is also used in antifreeze and industrial cleaning products and, therefore, they claim it is unsuitable for use in cosmetics (either overtly, or by implication). These commentators are, however, missing a much more frequently used cosmetic ingredient, with an even more insidious “cv”. This ingredient is used in:


Industrial cleaning products

Bleach preparations

Car battery acid (!!!!)

Industrial cooling towers

Industrial cutting fluids

And many other industrial applications.

Furthermore, this ingredient is present in ALL cancer cells, is a major component in human and animal excretia (ugh – and we put THIS in cosmetics!) and also has the following toxicological properties:

Causes death by inhalation

Can cause death by ingestion

The gaseous form can cause skin burns

Prolonged exposure to the skin has unpleasant effects on skin appearance

So propylene glycol seems mild in comparison. It is clear to me that the industry has a huge responsibility to invoke the Precautionary Principle and take immdeiate steps to remove this dangerous ingredient from ALL cosmetics as soon as possible. After all, who needs water anway?

Water is also present (in fairly low concentrations) in male bovine faeces. Need I say more?


Additional note by author in reference to a private message received:

The point of this article is to illustrate the nonsensical use of genuine facts taken completely out of context to demonstrate a point. In this instance, I am showing that there is no logic in suggesting that, because propylene glycol is also used in other, non-cosmetic applications, this is a reason to claim that it should not be used in cosmetics. There is no law that states that any particular substance may only be used in one specific industry, and the fact that propylene glycol happens to be highly useful in antifreeze has no bearing whatsoever on its suitability, or otherwise, in cosmetics. If you take the facts about water, as I have presented them, out of the comfortable context of thinking you know that it is totally safe, then it can sound scary. This is why I deliberately did not actually name the mystery ingredient as being water until right at the end, because it would have detracted from my point. I hope that, after reading this article, people will understand that to claim that ANY ingredient should not be used in cosmetics just because it has other uses is a nonsense. Should we not sprinkle salt on our food – after all, it is used on roads to prevent ice forming!


Dene Godfrey has been involved with preservatives for cosmetics since 1981, from both technical and commercial angles and has a degree in chemistry. Dene worked for one of the largest manufacturers of parabens from 1992 – 2002, and currently works for a UK company involved in the distribution of ingredients for cosmetics, health care and food. The Boots Company, 1973 – 92, Dene spent 11 years working with bronopol, although he was also involved in the initial development of Myavert C, now known as Biovert – a well-known “non-preservative”. Latterly was responsible (as Technical Manager) for the operation of the Formulation Laboratory and the Microbiology Laboratory. As Technical Manager when at Nipa Laboratories, Dene was responsible for development and sales of new preservative products, mainly into personal care. Developed the Nipaguard range of preservatives and co-patented a preservative system based on phenoxyethanol and IPBC. In 2002, Dene founded MGS MicroPure (as Technical & Sales Director) to compete with the giants of preservation, establishing the Paratexin brand name in the UK and several other markets (EU/ global). MGS MicroPure ceased trading in 2005. Since 2005, Dene has been employed by a major UK distributor of personal care ingredients, with his focus primarily on preservation systems. Dene’s articles are based solely on his personal opinions, observations and research, and are not intended to represent any official position of the part of his employer. Dene obtained a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry from the Open University in 1996. He also obtained the Professional Certificate in Management from the Open University in 1997. He has been an active member of the UK Society of Cosmetic Scientists since 1992, and has served 4 terms on the SCS Council, and is involved with the SCS Social Committee from 1993 to date; from 2004 – 7 as Social Secretary. Dene has presented papers at many SCS meetings and was President of the SCS (2009/10)

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