Glycols in Cosmetics – What Actually Are They?

Glycols in cosmetics - what they are
Glycols in cosmetics - what they are

That’s the thing with the ingredients in cosmetics: the descriptions on the products usually tell us very little about what’s actually in them. There are countless different ingredients listed. Perhaps you’ve noticed the ingredient glycol or cosmetic glycol before. It is commonly found in cosmetic products and we use cosmetic glycol in our products, too. In this article, we take a closer look so you know what the deal is with this ingredient.

What are glycols?

Glycols are polyvalent alcohols, and although they are related to the alcohol that we drink, there is one fundamental difference: they differ in the number of hydroxyl groups. The alcohol we drink has one of these groups, whereas glycols have two – and this also gives them different properties. The name glycol comes from the sweet taste of the ingredient, the Greek word glykys meaning sweet. The polyvalent alcohol most commonly used in cosmetic products is propylene glycol. It is a colourless, slightly oily liquid that dissolves easily in water. But what function do glycols have in cosmetics?

What do glycols do?

The reason glycols are used so often is that they have a number of positive properties, which can be beneficial in the production of cosmetics. Glycols can inhibit microbial activity, making it possible for the most part to dispense with the use of other preservatives. It is therefore an ingredient that cosmetics producers like to use for preservation. Glycols are also hygroscopic, which means they attract and bind water. They are therefore used as a humectant in countless skin creams, toothpastes, mouthwashes and deodorants, for example. Thanks to glycols, cosmetic products applied to the skin also have the advantage that they can retain the skin’s moisture. Glycols are therefore considered to be nourishing for the skin, because they are able to hydrate the skin and leave it feeling silky smooth. What’s more, glycols are also used to increase or reduce a product’s viscosity, i.e. how thick it is. Besides cosmetic products, glycols can also be found in foods because they are permitted as a food additive. They are also used in heat transfer medium, as well as in medicines as a vehicle for active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Here at pjur, we too have made use in our products of the properties that make cosmetic glycols so beneficial. We make use of the outstanding lubricating properties of cosmetic glycols in our personal lubricants.

Usually, complicated terminology is not nearly as complex as it sounds. And now you know for certain what glycols are and what role they play in our products – and in countless others, too!

Image source: applying-body-body-lotion-286951

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