Hey, Why Was I Running From Butylene Glycol Again?
Over the course of my 13 year natural hair journey, I have chosen to stay away from certain products once I became wise to why they may not be good for the hair or body.
However, there comes a time when you start to question why you were running away from that thing — whatever it is — in the first place.
Because of a recent experience with two different batches of BTMS-25, I've found myself wanting more and more to test out a different version of BTMS, called BTMS-50. Consider it the more-conditioning big brother of BTMS-25.
It's important for me to note that I'm not trying to talk anybody into or out of using anything they're uncomfortable with.
BTMS-50 is 50% Behentrimonium Methosulfate, the conditioning agent which makes your hair soft and helps with detangling. Hence, the "50" in the name.
BTMS-50: Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetyl Alcohol (and) Butylene Glycol
BTMS-25: Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol
I initially stayed way from BTMS-50 because Butylene Glycol is one of the ingredients which make up the BTMS-50 emulsifier blend.
I heard all types of terrible things about glycols. And yes there are certain glycols which can be mad-irritating to many people. So when I read the INCI name of BTMS-50 and saw that "…Glycol", I was like "NOPE!!" LOL!
I mean, it has "glycol" in the name, so it MUST be anti-freeze, right? Right?? Not so fast.
Butylene Glycol is not the same as Ethylene glycol (known to be used in anti-freeze) and Propylene glycol (skin irritant and sensitizer). Many people have lumped it together with its more toxic cousins.
But it is important to note that Butylene Glycol is not "anti-freeze". Unlike its more toxic cousins, Butylene glycol is not a known carcinogen and, reportedly, there are no documented organ-specific toxicities associated with it.
Butylene Glycol is used for its humectant properties, as a conditioning agent, and to help other ingredients dissolve into water. Butylene glycol is found in "food flavoring agents" as well as regular cosmetics product.
Its EWG.org score is 0-1 (depending on concentration) which means "Low Hazard" .
Just to contrast, Cetearyl alcohol is in BTMS-25. It has a score of 1 on the EWG.org scale. Cetyl Alcohol — which a lot of us use in conjunction with BTMS-25 — also has a score of 1 on EWG's scale (unless you're sure you're using 100% vegetable-based Cetyl).
Butylene Glycol is sold by itself as a humectant at wholesalers like Lotioncrafter.com, personalformulator.com, and makingcosmetics.com. Tightlycurly.com lists Butylene Glycol as "Good", calling it an "excellent humectant".
Yes it is a petroleum based ingredient (yikes!)…but so is the store-bought lipstick I just used this morning…and the eyelash glue you may have used to put on your lashes before you went out last night.
It's also in the jars you may use to store your concoctions, the toothbrush you use to brush your teeth, and the containers which hold milk, yogurt, aloe vera and almost every ingredient you have sitting on the shelf (unless you've purposely place them in glass containers).
Just to contrast, while running away from Butylene glycol in hair/skin products, you may actually be using the much more irritating/sensitizing Propylene glycol in your mouth everyday because Propylene glycol is often found in toothpaste.
Propylene Glycol has a score of 3 on EWG's scale.
Ethylene Glycol has a score of 4 on EWG's scale.
Here's another example. As recently as 3 or so years ago, you couldn't pay me to use a shampoo with sulfate in it. I thought sulfate was the be all, end all worst thing in the world (outside of petrolatum and mineral oil) …. until I started to regularly create and test my own DIY products.
Because of the repeated and multiple testing of different concoctions, I would sometimes get product buildup. I've found the best way to get rid of that buildup and help shake off dullness was to make sure my hair was CLEAN with the help of (at least) a diluted sulfate-based shampoo.
Yeah, I said it and I won't apologize for it. Sulfate shampoo serves a very specific purpose — to get the hair clean — and it works without specifically making me irritated. The non-sulfate versions work well too.
But all those years I was running from sulfates, I hadn't yet realized that it was also an ingredient in toothpaste. So while I shunned and cursed sulfate-shampoo, I was brushing my teeth with sulfate toothpaste twice a day. Chi'le!
Don't get me wrong! I ain't gonna be slapping on the hair grease or tossing out my sulfate-free shampoo anytime soon! But I won't be cursing sulfate anymore.
I'm finding it increasingly important to not only know which ingredients to stay away from, but also to understand why I'm running away from them in the first place. In addition, it's important to know whether or not I'm using much more hazardous products everyday without blinking an eye.
Just a Few Examples
Butylene Glycol is an ingredient in:
1. Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Moisturizing Leave-in Conditioner
2. L'Oreal Paris EverStyle Smooth & Shine Creme
3. Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Heat Defense Leave-In Conditioner
Propylene Glycol is an ingredient in:
1. TRESemme Moisture Rich Conditioner
2. DevaCurl One Condition
3. Aveeno Active Naturals Nourish + Condition Leave-In Treatment (also contains Butylene Glycol)
You can decide to use whatever it is you want to use on your own hair. If you ain't feeling it, that's fine. But I'm going to quit running for a minute to see what's up.
I just recently bought BTMS-50 from Brambleberry.com and will be testing it to see what it's all about, whether it's more conditioning than BTMS-25 and whether or not I've been avoiding it for no good reason.