Propylene Carbonate

What Is It?

Propylene Carbonate is a clear, odorless solvent with a high boiling point. In cosmetics and personal care products, Propylene Carbonate is used in the formulation of makeup, primarily lipstick, eye shadow, and mascara, as well as in skin cleansing products.

Why Is It Used?

Propylene Carbonate is used to dissolve other substances and is frequently used with clay gellants (such as montmorillonite or bentonite).

Scientific Facts

Propylene Carbonate, also known as cyclic propylene carbonate, is an organic chemical. It is an ester of propylene glycol and carbonic acid. Propylene Carbonate is flammable and chemically stable.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the safety of Propylene Carbonate and approved its use as an indirect food additive as a component of adhesives. The safety of Propylene Carbonate has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert (CIR) Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Propylene Carbonate was safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use and concentration. In 2004, as part of the scheduled re-evaluation of ingredients, the CIR Expert Panel considered available new data on Propylene Carbonate and reaffirmed the above conclusion.

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel noted that Propylene Carbonate is generally used in cosmetics and pesonal care products at concentrations ranging from less than 0.1% to 5%. Undiluted Propylene Carbonate was moderately irritating to the eye and skin. Undiluted Propylene Carbonate was nontoxic by inhalation exposure. Propylene Carbonate was negative for mutagenicity in bacteria and negative for genotoxicity in the rat liver cells. Products containing up to 20% Propylene Carbonate were determined to be nonsensitizing, and, at most, moderately irritating to human skin, nonphototoxic and nonphotosensitizing.

FDA: Link to Code of Federal Regulations for Propylene Carbonate…

Propylene Carbonate 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.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:…

More Scientific Information

Propylene Carbonate functions as a solvent in cosmetics and personal care products. Solvents are liquids employed to dissolve components found useful in cosmetics or drugs. Water is the most common solvent found in cosmetics. Nonaqueous solvents are required in a variety of cosmetics, such as colognes, hair sprays, and nail lacquers. Specific solvent capabilities of certain cosmetic ingredients can be used, e.g., to remove sebum from the skin, to loosen make-up, to extract essential oils, or to dissolve dyes.


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

Food Ingredients and Packaging:

Food Contact Substances:…

Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS):

Search the Code of Federal Regulations

EU Cosmetics Inventory