Propylene Glycol

What is it?

Propylene glycol is a colorless and odorless liquid which may be derived from either petroleum, natural gas, or vegetable sources.

What does it do?

Propylene glycol helps form the base for our deodorants. When combined with sodium stearate (a soap), it takes on a form that is more viscous or solid.  Other ingredients may then be suspended in this structured base, providing the form and delivering the benefits that consumers expect from a underarm product.

How is it made?

Our Stewardship Model guides us to select ingredients which have been processed in a manner that supports our philosophy of human and environmental health.

The propylene glycol Tom’s of Maine uses is derived entirely from vegetable sources.  Our suppliers use a catalytic process called hydrogenolysis to convert glycerin into propylene glycol.  A reaction between glycerin (obtained from vegetable oils) and hydrogen takes place at high temperatures and pressures and after the reaction, the newly formed propylene glycol is purified and tested for quality.

What are the alternatives?

In 2014, Tom’s of Maine became the very first deodorant brand to transition its product line from a propylene glycol derived from natural gas to a 100% vegetable derived alternative. This change was important to Tom’s because while natural gas is an abundant natural resource, it is a non-renewable one. As it is a central part of our mission to act in an environmentally responsible manner, we have been investigating renewable alternatives for decades.

With the introduction of a vegetable-based propylene glycol we feel we can deliver the best of both worlds - a high quality product and one that is more environmentally sustainable. The steps taken over the last 20 years to carefully develop this alternative have been in an effort to ensure our customers experience only the highest quality products from Tom’s of Maine. This switch also helps us reduce our dependency on petroleum feedstocks, thus improving our global energy balance and reducing greenhouse gases associated with the production of this ingredient by up to 61%, as compared to the previous method of production based upon natural gas.

There are other alternatives like propanediol and glycerin, but for deodorant applications we have found propylene glycol to be the most effective base ingredient to date.

Is this the right option for me?

Propylene glycol has a long history of safe use in personal care products. It is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of ingredients that are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).1

Tom’s of Maine recognizes that no two people are alike, and even with naturally derived ingredients, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction that is unique to them. As with any product, be sure to discontinue use if you experience discomfort or other indications that the product may not be appropriate for your individual body chemistry.

1 21 CFR 184.1666