Clean Beauty Tips: Look Out for Those PEGS!

January 31, 2018

Clean Beauty Tips: Look Out for Those PEGS!

As many of us are turning to natural skincare, the beauty industry is catching on to the trending interest in green products and are claiming to jump on board. This is wonderful a thing when the shift and message are true. Unfortunately, however, many consumers continue to be fooled by green labels and "all natural" statements. Simply turning over the bottle and taking a look at the list of ingredients will reveal whatever hidden lies there may be. But, the problem is that how many really understand what those long words mean? While I don't go by "if you can't pronounce it, it can't be good" (since many ingredients are listed by their scientific names), it is certainly hard to know which ingredients are good and which ones are not. Skimming the list in search for familiar ingredients is common. Knowing this, companies like to throw around natural-sounding words that are actually not so natural. So here is a tip: look out for those PEGS!

One example is Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters. If your "natural" product contains the word PEG, you can be sure that it's not as natural as they claim. So if you see anything like the following:

- OLIVE OIL PEG-7 ESTERS / PEG-7 OLIVATE, 
- MACADAMIA TERNIFOLIA SEED OIL PEG-8 ESTERS
- AVOCADO OIL GLYCERETH-8 ESTERS, 

you'll probably get excited over the presence of Olive Oil, Macadamia or Avocado. But next to it, the word "PEG", is the keyword that changes everything! Listing, for example, "Macadamia", only means that the plant ester was derived from the fatty acid of Macadamia--sure, that can be a good thing. But note that you wont be benefiting from the full range of Macadamia's health attributes. What's a real cause for concern, however, is that PEG means that this ester was obtained through a chemical process involving petrochemicals thereby changing completely the nature of the botanical ingredient. Esters are not bad. It's the process in which it's obtained. 

In order to reduce the irritating effects of petrochemicals, all petroleum-derived ingredients are treated through a process called ethoxylation. This process produces an accidental byproduct known as 1,4-dioxane (which you will not always find listed in the ingredients). This byproduct is a carcinogenic contaminant responsible for organ toxicity in humans and carcinogenic growths. 

The tricky part is, if you can't see it in the ingredient list, then how do you know that it's present? Well, if you see any of the following words or suffixes then you know that 1,4-dioxane is present.

  • PEG
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • "oleth"
  • "xynol"

Be a safe consumer by being smart about your choices. Stay informed!

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