Propylene Glycol In My Conditioner??

One of my favorite deep conditioners arrived in the mail yesterday.

I've raved about this conditioner in several posts on this blog mostly because of how it helped care for my relaxed hair.  I have always been discriminating about what I put on and in my body but since going natural, I've become even more diligent about reading ingredients lists of the products I put into my hair.

I don't want to use any product that will inhibit my hair's ability to do what it is inclined to do.  So even having a history with the phytokarite deep conditioner (I felt good enough about it to buy it in bulk because I got a really good price), did not stop me from looking over the ingredients again.

Nothing on the list made me uneasy....until I came upon it:

Propylene Glycol

The name was looking at me like it was daring me to send the product back. Or daring me to write a letter to phyto and ask them what the hell is up.
I have seen propylene glycol in many products, but I was disappointed to find it here.  The root of my disappointment is not that propylene glycol is harmful (ethylene glycol its distant cousin, is very harmful but propylene glycol has not been proven to be), but that for a brand that touts a natural approach to making its products and for the retail cost,  they could not have chosen a plant-derived alternative to a petroleum-based product. 
Propylene glycol is a petroleum-based product that serves various purposes in cosmetics including as a humectant and emulsifier.  
I know the rationale behind  using propylene glycol comes down to cost.  Phyto gets to continue charging what they do for their products but increase their margins by switching to cheaper ingredients, and guess what, Curlies?  Phyto isn't the only one doing it!  The economic downturn has driven many businesses to make tough decisions with their products: Often the options are either to increase margins by increasing  the cost to consumers or by switching to cheaper ingredients.  And while the idealist is inclined to raise a fist and argue about how wrong this is, the reality is businesses have to make money, and offset rising costs affecting their bottomline (think of the impact to businesses of rising fuel costs).
So if we're being realists about the likelihood of ingredients in our favorite products changing, we also have to be rational and ask ourselves:  Does the change mean this product will do harm to my hair or provide a less desirable result than I am used to?
Faced with this new ingredient discovery, I did ask myself this question.
Finding propylene glycol in my 'plant-based' deep conditioner, make me balk because I am not a fan of propylene glycol in my face products. Why?  I tend to have oily skin and found over time that when I used products with this ingredient, my face would be oilier than ever (and for me, more oil  =  more breakouts).
Despite a lack of scientific support for this observation, I switched to products without any petroleum-based ingredients, and found my skin was better able to maintain it's oil balance.  Only time will tell the effects of a product with propylene glycol on my hair and scalp (and of course I will keep you updated) but I will tell you this:  So far, there has been absolutely no scientific basis behind the propaganda that propylene glycol is harmful when used cosmetically despite what you will read on the internet (and there is alot).

One conspiracy theorist claims it denatures skin proteins and causes liver and kidney abnormalities. Please know, scientific studies have been done extensively on propylene glycol (read about propylene glycol and one such study HERE) and none have concluded any of the claims listed above.  Having done my research, I feel safe using a product with propylene glycol on my hair.
But the key takeaway here: Always do your research. Don't blindly use products on or in you without knowing where they come from.  They may not show harm the first or first ten times you use them but the cumulative effect of anything damaging will show itself over time, even if that's decades later.  We have to be informed about what society offers us or else how can we ensure they maintain quality in the goods they make available to us?  Companies are in business to make money. We, as consumers need to make sure they get only as much as they deserve and only after we get as much as we deserve.