What Is It?

Polybutene is a light colored, nondrying, sticky liquid. In cosmetics and personal care products, it is used in the formulation of lipstick, eye makeup and skin care products.

Why Is It Used?

Polybutene functions as a binder, epilating agent and viscosity increasing agent – nonaqueous.

Scientific Facts

Polybutene is the polymer formed by the polymerization of a mixture of isobutenes and normal butenes. The viscosity of Polybutene increases in direct proportion to increasing chain length.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Polybutene on its list of indirect food additives. For example, Polybutene may be used in pressure sensitive adhesives, in rubber articles intended for repeated use, and in paper and paperboard. The safety of Polybutene has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Polybutene was safe as presently used in cosmetics and personal care products. In 2002, as part of the scheduled re-evaluation of ingredients, the CIR Expert Panel considered available new data on Polybutene and reaffirmed the above conclusion.

CIR Safety Review: Polybutene was not a dermal irritant or sensitizer. Acute exposure studies did not result in any significant effects. When formlations containing Polybutene were tested in clinical studies, no evidence of sensitization, irritation, phototoxicty or photosensitization were observed. The CIR Expert Panel concluded that the number and variety of toxicological studies conducted support the safe use of Polybutene in cosmetic and personal care products.

FDA: Link to Code of Federal Regulations for Polybutene

Polybutene may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

EU Cosmetic Regulation

More Scientific Information

Polybutene is any one of several polymers of isobutene and n-butene that vary according to the degree of polymerization. Synthetic polymers are large molecules prepared from relatively small chemical compounds called monomers. If only one monomer is used in the synthesis, the resulting polymer is a homopolymer.


Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration