Propanediol (PDO) is a common ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products such as lotions, cleansers, and other skin treatments. It’s a chemical similar to propylene glycol, but thought to be safer.

INC Name: Propanediol

Other Names: Propanediol 1, 3, Propanediol 1,3

Derived From: Plants (Corn sugar)

Ingredient Function: Humectant, Solvent, Preservative booster, Penetration Enhancer, Texture enhancer

Appearance: Clear, semi-viscous liquid

Smell: Mild to slightly sweet smell

Solubility: Water-soluble

Usage rate: 1-10%, up to 40%

Storage: Stored in a cool, dry place

Shelf Life: 12 months

Formulation Notes:

  • PH Range: 7
  • Add it to the heated water phase, or add to cold water for a recipe that does not require heating
  • It’s a non-sticky humectant
  • Can be used to thin-out a formulation to make it not too thick
  • Alternatives/ Substitutes to Propanediol are Vegetable Glycerine and Propylene Glycol (which is a naturally derived alternative to Propylene Glycol).
  • For external use only; Use for cosmetic formulations only


Common Types of Products With Propanediol

Propanediol is commonly added to hydrating skincare and haircare products, such as:

  • Hydrating hair and skin conditioner, Lotions/ creams
  • Cleansers and Toners
  • Lotions and creams
  • Serums and gel products
  • Body and face mists
  • Hydrating cleansers and micellar waters
  • Deodorants
  • Hair Shampoos and Conditioners, and detangling hair conditioners


Properties and Benefits of Propanediol in Skincare and Beauty

  • Humectant Property: Propanediol helps keep the skin moisturized and hydrated, reduces flakiness and leaves skin smoother and dewy
  • Preservative Booster: Helps increase the effectiveness of the preservative in a formulation/ product, helping extend the shelf life
  • Penetration Enhancer: Propanediol has the ability to increase the penetration of other ingredients in a formulation. It helps the skin better absorb active ingredients, increasing the effectiveness of a product
  • Texture Enhancer: Helps improve the texture, hand-feel and skin-feel of the formulation/ final product. It makes a product spread better and glide, giving a richer feel.
  • Emollient Property: Due to it’s emollient property, Propanediol helps make the skin softer and smoother by keeping it hydrated and preventing water loss
  • HairCare Benefits: Moisturizes and softens hair, and also tames friz and flyaways
  • Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, as it is does not cause irritation in sensitive skin.


Propanediol vs Glycerin: They are both viscous liquid, but propanediol is more runny / lighter. Glycerin is more viscous/ sticky/ thicker and feels heavier and more sticky on the skin, while Propanediol is non-sticky and leaves a dry, non-tacky skin-feel. Propanediol is a non-sticky alternative to Glycerin.

Propanediol vs Propylene Glycol: Propanediol is naturally-derived (from plants/ corn sugar); Propylene Glycol is synthetic/ synthetically processed (derived from Petroleum). They are both humectants and offer similar benefits to the skin. Some skin types are sensitive to/ irritated by Propylene Glycol, while Propanediol is non-irritating to all skin types. Propanediol is a natural alternative to Propylene Glycol.

*NOTE: This product is for external use only; Use for cosmetic formulations only

Additional information

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