Butylene glycol, also known as butane-1,3-diol, is an organic alcohol often used as a skin conditioning agent. It can act as a surfactant in wetting agent and solvents. It also functions as a fragrancing ingredient, viscosity decreasing agent, and humectant. Butylene glycol help dissolve ingredients not known to be water-soluble. They enhance the effectiveness of preservatives and have antimicrobial effects.
It is recommended that anyone handling butylene glycol avoid having it contact the skin because of its absorption properties. The alcohol can cause damage to the kidneys, liver, and brain if someone absorbs high quantities.
Butylene glycol can be found in many beauty products like lotion, sheet masks, cosmetics, sunscreen, and conditioner. Many clear gel-based topical products also have butylene glycol as an ingredient because the compound helps add moisture to the skin and hair. The solvent properties of butylene glycol also keep ingredients and pigments within solutions from clumping together.