What are PEG’s and what are they used for?

PEGs (also known as Polyethylene Glycol)  is part of a family of synthetic chemical compounds often used in cosmetic and personal care products. The manufacturing process of PEG’s may use ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane.

PEGs are used in cosmetics and personal care products as solvents, thickeners, softeners and moisture carriers.

PEG’s are usually followed by a number e.g. PEG-7 or PEG-80, showing how many units of ethylene glycol they comprise. The lower the number, the more easily it’s absorbed into the skin.

What’s the problem with PEG’s?

PEG’s are often manufactured using ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane.  Ethylene oxide is a known human carcinogen, may interfere with human development and can harm the nervous system. 1,4 dioxane is a possible human carcinogen, and is an environmental toxin. It is impossible to know whether the PEG’s in cosmetic products are contaminated by ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane.

PEG’s are a penetration enhancer, and allow harmful ingredients to be absorbed more readily through the skin.

How do I avoid PEG’s?

As always, read the ingredients on the back of the label and avoid any ingredients marked PEG.

Read more:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyethylene_glycol

EWG: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704983/POLYETHYLENE_GLYCOL/

David Suzuki: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—peg-compounds-and-their-contaminants/

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