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The Comprehensive Guide to Butylene Glycol: Benefits, Safety, Forms, Research, and Usage in Skincare

Last updated: Aug 2023
In this article:

Benefits of Butylene Glycol in Skincare

Butylene Glycol is a common ingredient found in skincare products that offers a range of benefits. From hydration to enhanced ingredient penetration, reduced product viscosity to increased product shelf life, this versatile compound is highly valued in the skincare industry. In this guide, we will dive into the specifics of each benefit and explore why Butylene Glycol is a valuable addition to your skincare routine.


One of the primary benefits of Butylene Glycol is its ability to hydrate the skin. This lightweight, water-soluble compound works as a humectant, drawing moisture from the air and increasing the skin's ability to retain water. By improving the skin's hydration levels, Butylene Glycol helps combat dryness, flakiness, and dullness. Incorporating Butylene Glycol into your skincare routine can leave your skin feeling plump, supple, and hydrated.

Enhanced ingredient penetration

Butylene Glycol also acts as a penetration enhancer, allowing other beneficial ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin. Its unique structure helps open up pathways through the skin barrier, allowing active ingredients to be more effectively absorbed. This means that when you use skincare products containing Butylene Glycol, you can expect enhanced results from other ingredients, such as antioxidants, vitamins, and moisturizers.

Reduced product viscosity

In addition to its hydrating and penetration-enhancing properties, Butylene Glycol also contributes to the overall texture and feel of skincare products. Due to its low molecular weight and viscosity, Butylene Glycol helps reduce the thickness and heaviness of creams, serums, and lotions. This lightweight texture promotes easy application and absorption, allowing the product to spread evenly across the skin without leaving a greasy or sticky residue.

Increased product shelf life

Butylene Glycol also serves as a preservative in skincare products. Its antimicrobial properties help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi, extending the shelf life of the product. By inhibiting microbial growth, Butylene Glycol ensures that your skincare products remain safe and effective for a longer duration, reducing the risk of contamination and maintaining their efficacy over time.

Concentration levels and patch testing

When selecting skincare products containing Butylene Glycol, it is crucial to pay attention to the concentration levels. Typically, it is used in concentrations ranging from 1-10%. Higher concentrations can increase the likelihood of skin irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin. It is always advisable to perform a patch test before introducing any new product into your skincare routine.

Allergies and Skin Sensitivity

When it comes to personal care products, allergies and skin sensitivity are important factors to consider. Allergic reactions can range from mild irritation to severe itching, redness, and swelling. To prevent adverse reactions, it is crucial to be aware of potential allergens and choose products accordingly.

Examining Ingredients

Start by examining the ingredient list on any product you plan to use. Common allergens include fragrances, preservatives, and certain ingredients derived from plants, such as pollen extracts. If you have a known allergy or sensitivity to a particular ingredient, it is essential to avoid products containing it.

Hypoallergenic Products

Choosing hypoallergenic products can also help minimize the risk of developing an allergic reaction. These products are specifically formulated to be less likely to cause allergies, although individual sensitivities may still vary. Look for products labeled as hypoallergenic or suitable for sensitive skin.

Patch Testing

Before using any new product, perform a patch test to determine your skin’s reaction. Apply a small amount of the product to a discreet area, such as the inner forearm, and leave it for 24 hours. If no redness, irritation, or other adverse effects occur, it is generally safe to use the product.


Comedogenicity refers to the tendency of a substance or product to clog pores, leading to the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads). For individuals prone to acne or clogged pores, choosing non-comedogenic products is crucial to maintain clear and healthy skin.

Understanding the Comedogenic Rating Scale

The comedogenic rating scale classifies substances into different levels of comedogenicity, ranging from 0 (non-comedogenic) to 5 (highly comedogenic). Ingredients such as mineral oil, lanolin, and certain types of silicones have higher comedogenic ratings and are more likely to cause clogged pores. On the other hand, ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and tea tree oil have lower comedogenic ratings and are less likely to cause breakouts.

Choosing Non-comedogenic Products

To choose non-comedogenic products, look for those labeled as such or search for products with ingredients that have low comedogenic ratings. However, keep in mind that individual reactions may vary, and what works well for one person may not work for another. Conducting patch tests can help determine how your skin responds to a specific product.

Environmental Impact

When selecting personal care products, it is important to consider their environmental impact. Many popular products contain ingredients that are harmful to ecosystems and the planet. Making eco-conscious decisions can contribute to preserving the environment and supporting sustainable practices.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Products

Look for products that are labeled as eco-friendly, sustainable, or made with natural and biodegradable ingredients. Avoid products containing microbeads or environmentally harmful chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, and triclosan.

Consider Packaging

Also, consider the packaging of the products you choose. Opt for brands that use minimal and recyclable packaging. Additionally, look for refillable or reusable options to reduce waste.

Making Informed Decisions

By being conscious of allergies and skin sensitivities, choosing non-comedogenic products, and considering the environmental impact, you can make informed decisions when selecting personal care products. Prioritizing safety and sustainability will not only benefit your skin but also the planet we all share.

Different Forms and Concentrations in Skincare Products

When shopping for skincare products, you may come across different forms and concentrations of certain ingredients. In this guide, we will explore the different forms and concentrations of skincare ingredients, specifically focusing on butylene glycol, recommended concentrations in products, and the synergistic effects of these ingredients with other skincare ingredients.

Understanding Butylene Glycol and Other Glycols

Butylene glycol is a common ingredient found in skincare products due to its moisturizing properties. However, it is worth noting the differences between butylene glycol and other glycols commonly used in skincare.

  • Butylene glycol is a four-carbon chain alcohol, whereas other glycols, such as propylene glycol and ethylene glycol, have two carbon atoms.
  • This slight difference in molecular structure can affect the properties and potential side effects of these glycols.
  • Generally, butylene glycol is considered to be less irritating and more suitable for sensitive skin compared to propylene glycol.

Optimal Concentrations for Skincare Ingredients

When it comes to concentrations of skincare ingredients, it is important to consider the optimal and recommended levels for effective results without causing any adverse reactions. Higher concentrations of certain ingredients may not necessarily provide better results and can even lead to skin irritation.

In the case of butylene glycol, it is generally used in concentrations ranging from 1% to 10% in skincare products. At lower concentrations, it provides moisturizing benefits while higher concentrations may add viscosity to the formulation. However, it is always necessary to follow the specific instructions and recommendations provided by the manufacturer for each product.

Synergistic Effects of Skincare Ingredients

Understanding the synergistic effects of skincare ingredients can help you maximize the effectiveness of your skincare routine. Some ingredients work better when combined with others, enhancing their benefits and overall performance.

For example, butylene glycol has been found to enhance the absorption and delivery of other skincare ingredients into the skin. When combined with active ingredients like hyaluronic acid or vitamin C, it can increase their penetration into the skin, resulting in improved hydration and brightening effects.

Other skincare ingredients that can work synergistically with butylene glycol include niacinamide, ceramides, and peptides. These combinations can help address specific skin concerns such as uneven skin tone, loss of elasticity, and dehydration.

Research and Studies on Butylene Glycol

Butylene Glycol, a commonly used ingredient in skincare products, has been the subject of several scientific studies. These studies aim to understand its effectiveness and safety in various applications. Here is a guide to some of the scientific research conducted on Butylene Glycol.

Scientific Studies on Butylene Glycol:

  1. Moisturizing properties:

    Research has shown that Butylene Glycol has excellent moisturizing properties. A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that it effectively improved skin hydration by reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL). The study concluded that Butylene Glycol helps retain moisture in the skin, making it an effective humectant.

  2. Skin penetration:

    Several studies have examined the skin penetration of Butylene Glycol. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science evaluated the penetration of various humectants, including Butylene Glycol. The results indicated that Butylene Glycol had a higher skin penetration rate compared to other humectants, such as glycerin and propylene glycol. This suggests that Butylene Glycol is more likely to deliver moisture into the deeper layers of the skin.

Comparative Studies with Other Humectants:

  1. Glycerin vs. Butylene Glycol:

    A comparative study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology compared the moisturizing effects of glycerin and Butylene Glycol. The study found that both humectants significantly increased skin hydration, but Butylene Glycol exhibited longer-lasting moisturizing effects. It was concluded that Butylene Glycol could be a more suitable choice for long-lasting hydration.

  2. Hyaluronic acid vs. Butylene Glycol:

    Hyaluronic acid is another popular humectant in skincare products. A comparative study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology compared the moisturizing efficacy of hyaluronic acid and Butylene Glycol. The study found that both ingredients significantly increased skin hydration levels. However, Butylene Glycol showed faster and more sustained moisturization compared to hyaluronic acid. The study suggested that Butylene Glycol could be an effective alternative to hyaluronic acid in skincare formulations.

Efficacy in Various Skincare Products:

  1. Facial moisturizers:

    Butylene Glycol is commonly found in facial moisturizers due to its ability to retain moisture in the skin. A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science evaluated the efficacy of various facial moisturizers containing Butylene Glycol. The results showed that these moisturizers effectively improved skin hydration and were well-tolerated by participants, indicating the efficacy and safety of Butylene Glycol in facial moisturizers.

  2. Serums and lotions:

    Butylene Glycol is also used in serums and lotions for its hydrating properties. A study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science demonstrated that serums and lotions containing Butylene Glycol significantly increased skin moisture levels. The study concluded that Butylene Glycol is a valuable ingredient in hydrating skincare products.

In conclusion, scientific studies have highlighted the effectiveness and safety of Butylene Glycol in skincare products. Its moisturizing properties, skin penetration capabilities, and comparative effectiveness against other humectants make it a popular choice in various skincare formulations. Incorporating Butylene Glycol into facial moisturizers, serums, and lotions can significantly improve skin hydration, ensuring healthy and moisturized skin.

Usage and Application

Compatible Formulations:

When developing skincare products, it is crucial to consider formulation compatibility to ensure the effectiveness and stability of the final product. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Ingredient compatibility: It is essential to ensure that all ingredients in the formulation are compatible with each other. Some ingredients may react or interact with others, leading to undesirable outcomes such as ingredient instability or reduced efficacy. Perform compatibility tests by mixing small quantities of ingredients together and observing any changes over time.
  2. pH compatibility: The pH level of a formulation can significantly impact the stability and performance of skincare products. Some active ingredients require specific pH ranges to remain effective. Compatibility tests should include measuring the pH of the formulation and adjusting it as necessary.
  3. Stability testing: Stability is crucial for skincare products to maintain their quality over time. Conduct stability tests by subjecting the formulation to different conditions such as temperature, light, and humidity. Monitor any changes in color, texture, odor, or consistency to identify potential compatibility issues.

Best Practices for Skincare Product Formulation:

Creating a successful skincare product involves careful consideration of various factors. Here are some best practices that can help optimize your formulation process:

  1. Understand the target audience: Before formulating a skincare product, research your target audience's specific needs and preferences. This will help you choose the right ingredients and develop an effective product tailored to their requirements.
  2. Use high-quality ingredients: Selecting high-quality ingredients is crucial for producing a premium skincare product. Ensure that the chosen ingredients are sourced from reliable suppliers and meet industry standards.
  3. Optimize ingredient combination: Experiment with different ingredient combinations to leverage their synergistic effects. Certain ingredients can enhance the efficacy of others, providing improved skincare benefits.

Recommended Usage Guidelines:

To achieve the best results with skincare products, it is important to follow recommended usage guidelines. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. Start with clean skin: Before applying any skincare product, cleanse your face thoroughly to remove dirt, oil, and impurities. This allows the product to penetrate effectively and deliver its intended benefits.
  2. Apply a suitable amount: Use the recommended amount of product specified by the manufacturer. Applying too much can lead to product wastage, while using too little may not provide the desired results.
  3. Follow the application order: Apply skincare products in the correct order to maximize their benefits. In general, a recommended order of application is cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
  4. Perform a patch test: Before using a new skincare product, perform a patch test to check for any adverse reactions. Apply a small amount of the product on a small area of skin and observe for any redness, swelling, or irritation.
  5. Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to skincare. Use the product regularly as instructed to allow it enough time to work and provide visible results.

By following these usage and application guidelines and considering compatibility and formulation best practices, you can develop skincare products that are effective, stable, and provide optimal benefits to users.


  1. Butylene glycol is a commonly used ingredient in skincare products due to its ability to enhance product texture and absorption.
  2. It helps to improve the overall performance of a product by allowing other active ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin.
  3. Butylene glycol also functions as a humectant, helping to attract and retain moisture in the skin.
  4. It has a lightweight and non-greasy texture, making it suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin.
  5. Some individuals with sensitive skin may experience irritation or allergic reactions to butylene glycol, so it is important to patch test before incorporating it into your skincare routine.
  6. Overall, when used in the appropriate concentration and in combination with other beneficial ingredients, butylene glycol can contribute to improved skin hydration and overall product performance.