Propanediol at a glance

  • Also known as 1,3-propanediol
  • Improves absorption of ingredients to their boost effectiveness in skin
  • May also be used as an emollient, solvent or as support for the preservative system
  • Can be derived naturally from corn or created synthetically
  • Considered a safe, well-tolerated ingredient, not likely to cause sensitivity

Propanediol description

Propanediol (also known as 1,3-propanediol) is a glycol that can increase the absorption of ingredients (such as salicylic acid) to improve their effectiveness. Additionally, it offers moisturising properties that can result in a smooth, dewy finish as the formula sets. Propanediol is a considered a safe, well-tolerated ingredient, not likely to cause sensitivity. Propanediol is a versatile ingredient with additional properties that make it a favorable choice in skin care products, including its ability to boost the effectiveness of a preservative system within a formula. It can also serve as a solvent in a blend of ingredients. Propanediol can be derived naturally from corn or created synthetically. It is a colourless to pale yellow, viscous (somewhat sticky) liquid and is chemically similar to 1,2-propanediol (propylene glycol). In June 2018 the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board reevaluated propanediol’s use in personal care products and concluded that it is safe. For leave-on products it was recorded in up to a 39.9% concentration (for a deodorant) - skin care products generally contain lower amounts than that.

Propanediol references

  • PubChem Compound Summary, April 2021, ePublication
  • SpecialChem, Accessed April 2021, ePublication
  • Cosmetic Ingredient Review, June 2018, pages 1-73
  • Cosmetics & Toiletries, May 2013, pages 81-86

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.