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Polyethylene Glycol's Application in Cosmetics

Views: 263     Author: Vickey     Publish Time: 2023-10-13      Origin: Site


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Polyethylene Glycol's Application in Cosmetics

Many people are curious about PEG, which is frequently present in cosmetics. The majority of daily-use cosmetic products contain PEG, which is a crucial chemical ingredient and the source of many of their distinctive features.

A broad family of chemical compounds with oil derivatives includes polyethylene glycol (PEG) and its derivatives. They are avidly used by formulators in the cosmetics industry and many other industrial sectors because of their favorable qualities and comparatively low cost. PEGs can be found in a variety of formulations since agencies including the Cosmetics Ingredient Review and the Food and Drug Administration have deemed them to be safe.

Characteristics of Polyethylene Glycol

Polyethylene glycol is a member of the polyoxyethylene glycol family. From a chemical perspective, PEG is a polymer, or a compound made up of several repeating units. The molecule of ethylene oxide is the portion that repeats in polyethylene glycol. Due to the wide variety of PEG derivatives (identified by the number immediately following the abbreviation PEG, such as PEG-40 or PEG-400), the term "PEGs" refers to the entire class of compounds.

The solubility of polyethylene glycol and its derivatives in water, toluene, acetone, ethanol, and methylene chloride is quite good. The number of mers in a polymer chain affects the characteristics of various molecules. Lower molecular mass compounds are typically liquids, whereas larger molecular mass compounds (i.e., those with longer polymer chains) have higher viscosities and consequently take the shape of a paste, wax, or solid. PEGs in liquid form (those with a low molecular mass) are not volatile, in contrast to volatile organic compounds. PEG is also biodegradable and fire-resistant. PEG-classified substances typically exhibit strong stability in acids, bases, oxidizers, and reducers.

PEGs' Function and Effect on Cosmetics

Polyethylene glycol, and the entire PEG family in general, play a number of significant functions in cosmetic products because of their special properties. The following are the main implications of PEGs for the cosmetics sector:


To generate a heterogeneous system made up of two non-mixing liquids, an emulsion's emulsifying capabilities are essential for creating a long-lasting emulsion. One of them creates what is known as the continuous phase, while the other disperses inside of it to create what is known as the dispersed phase. The life of the material and, consequently, the product based on that kind of emulsion is prolonged by the use of PEGs in the formulation of O/W or W/O emulsions.

2. Moisture stabilizer

Compounds like PEGs keep the right degree of moisture in a cosmetic composition. Moisture stabilizers in cosmetics not only guarantee proper uniformity of the final product but also excel as treatments for dry skin. PEGs, which have hydrophilic qualities, attract water molecules to the surface and bond them there to form an occlusion layer. It maintains moisture at the proper level, allowing the skin to stay supple and healthy. Another crucial point is that polyethylene glycol does not weaken the epidermal barrier, which protects against UV exposure and the absorption of dangerous environmental elements.

3. Washing agent

PEG and its derivatives function effectively in the process of eliminating pollutants as cosmetic components. This property depends on the molecule's structure. Surfactants with hydrophobic-hydrophilic characteristics include PEGs. As washing agents, they moisten the surface, hydrolyze fat (contaminants are typically fatty), emulsify contaminants, and disperse them so that they are removed from the surface together with their carrier.

4. Controller for rheology

What does a substance's status as a rheology controller mean? Polyethylene glycol and its derivatives have the ability to influence the rheology of solutions by altering their viscosity. One of the main criteria that must be assessed and associated with a cosmetic product's viscosity From a theoretical perspective, measuring viscosity enables us to gather crucial data on the stability of emulsions. The data is crucial for determining products and ensuring product quality.

PEG is a constituent in numerous daily-use items, including hair shampoos, body lotions, shower gels, lipsticks, shaving creams, make-up removers, moisturizing creams, hand and foot care products, and colored cosmetics. If we examine the ingredients of these goods, we will discover that, in addition to polyethylene glycol, many of them also contain two or more of its other derivatives.

PEGs Are Used Most Frequently in Cosmetics

We should be conscious of what we're buying and educate ourselves about the ingredients in the cosmetics and care items we choose. Understanding what PEG is and how it works is crucial. Despite having a similar chemical structure, the constituents frequently play diverse roles in the goods they make up, and this has a meaningful impact on the quality of those products.

In addition to several PEGs, we frequently come across ingredients like PEG-10 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-20 Oleate, or PEG-100 Stearate in cosmetics. In O/W emulsions, PEG-10 hydrogenated castor oil is a common emulsifier. Castor oil is a derivative, as implied by the phrase "hydrogenated castor oil." Products like creams, milks, and balsams all include it. In addition to emulsifying, PEG-20 oleate controls rheology in washing products by raising their viscosity. It is also a solubilizer, a component that makes it easier to add ingredients like fatty compounds or plant extracts that are insoluble or only marginally soluble in aqueous solutions. An example of a surface active ingredient is PEG-100 stearate, which, like the substances previously stated, functions as an emulsifier in O/W emulsions as well as a foaming agent that makes it easier to produce high-quality and stable foams. It is frequently utilized in shower gels or hair washes.

Is Polyethylene Glycol Safe?

It's a hot issue to discuss the negative effects of polyethylene glycol and its derivatives. The primary problem with PEGs is that during the 'ethoxylation' process, ethylene oxide is used to generate them. This might contaminate the product with both that substance and the carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane. The toxicological profile of the chemicals categorized as PEGs is widely recognized, but it does not actually happen in practice. PEGs have no harmful or mutagenic effects and are non-toxic. They are safe for consumers to use in cosmetic goods. PEGs have also been evaluated for usage in dermatology, and it has been found that neither they irritate skin nor produce allergic reactions.

Can PEG and PG Be Used Interchangeably?

While PEG and PG share some similarities in their properties and applications, they are not interchangeable in all cases. Their different chemical structures and physical properties can affect their performance and safety in different applications, and it is important to choose the appropriate compound for a specific use.

Are PEG  Environmentally Friendly?

PEG  are  biodegradable, which means they can break down naturally in the environment over time. However, the process of biodegradation can take a long time and can generate waste products that may be harmful to the environment. Additionally, the production of PEG can have environmental impacts, depending on the manufacturing processes used. It is important to consider the environmental impact of these compounds when choosing a product.

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