Desert Botanicals releases new propylene glycol-free hair care line

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

An allergy to Propylene Glycol may cause skin irritation, itchiness, and eczema.   Image © VladimirFLoyd / Getty Images
An allergy to Propylene Glycol may cause skin irritation, itchiness, and eczema. Image © VladimirFLoyd / Getty Images

Related tags propylene glycol-free Propylene glycol

Combining Sonoran Desert ingredients with advanced silicone technology, hair care brand Desert Botanicals unveils its newest propylene glycol-free product line, designed for people allergic to the ingredient.

The new line from Desert Botanicals, which was founded in Arizona in 2019, comprises a sulfate-free shampoo, conditioner, leave-in glosser and detangler.

The brand, which applies advanced silicone technology to desert oils and nectars as well as vitamin nutrition, is centered around high-quality and high-performing hair care products, with social responsibility development at its core.

What is propylene glycol?

Propylene glycol is a widely available, inexpensive hydrophilic (water-loving) solvent. The beauty ingredient also has the added benefits of being a humectant, an antimicrobial preservative, a stabilizer, and an anti-caking agent.

“It is used commercially in everything from e-cigarettes, to household cleaners to cake mix to aircraft deicing fluid to cosmetics,” ​said John Ritchie, President and Chief Marketing Officer at Desert Botanicals. “Its ubiquity presents an obvious and huge challenge to people with an immune system reaction to it.​”

Allergic reactions to propylene glycol

Desert Botanicals launched its flagship product, SonoranShine Featherweight Glosser, back in November 2020. A friend of the company’s founders told the brand’s founders that unfortunately, she could not use its product because it contained propylene glycol.

In 2018, the American Contact Dermatitis Society​ named propylene glycol its Allergen of the Year, as Ritchie explained: “To draw attention to its role as a significant allergy-causing agent.”

Upon sharing these insights, Ritchie said: “It seems an increasing number of people are becoming allergic to propylene glycol, but in reality, it is probably more of an awareness issue as doctors and patients alike increasingly test for it when allergy issues start.”

Choosing to launch a propylene glycol-free product

Once the brand became aware of this issue, it began market research​ to better understand how widespread this concern was for hair care consumers. Following its research, Desert Botanicals found that while studies vary, estimates indicate that between 1% to 8% of all people are allergic to propylene glycol with many not even realizing it. The median of research suggests the percentage of people suffering from a propylene glycol allergy is 3%.

The brand then surveyed the marketplace and concluded propylene glycol is contained in many hair care products, Ritchie revealed: “Creating [created] a headache for propylene glycol allergy sufferers and a market opportunity for us.”

The pros and cons of propylene glycol-free development

During the development process, it was vital that Desert Botanicals was able to categorically ensure the new hair care product line would be propylene glycol-free.

The Sonoran-ingredient name was using propylene glycol as a diluent for some of the vitamin additives and found, through process and formulation adjustments, that it was able to input the nutrition into a solution without using propylene glycol. 

The brand then researched all its other ingredients to ensure they were propylene glycol-free as well.

Stating the biggest opportunities Desert Botanicals foresees from the launch of its SonoranShine range, Ritchie noted: “We have created a hassle-free product line to purchase for propylene glycol sufferers; [there is] no need to scrutinize labels, we have done the work for them.” 

“Our technical team was able to develop a portfolio of products that not only avoid using those undesirable chemicals but also provide customers with a look and feel that exceeds the performance of many of the best products currently available in the marketplace,”​ he added.

Creating a propylene glycol-free line

Talking about the number of people who are allergic to propylene glycol, Ritchie said: When we became aware this was an issue for some of our potential customers we investigated whether we had the ability to eliminate propylene glycol and still achieve the luxurious hair care performance we require.”

Desert Botanicals wanted to ensure it was technically able to create a propylene glycol-free product line without any sacrifice of quality. After finding it was, SonranShine was created, and the hair care name launched its product line at the Arizona Ultimate Women’s Expo​, which took place on the 9th-10th October 2021.

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