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Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)

Nasty Ingredients
Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)

Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)

Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) are a group of petroleum-based compounds that are frequently used in cosmetics, personal care and baby care products as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Though PEGs are generally considered safe in these applications, their use has historically been associated with some contamination concerns.

A 2001 study found a byproduct of PEG manufacturing (1,4-dioxane, a suspected carcinogen) was appearing in levels up to 279 ppm (parts per million) in finished cosmetic products, and in excess of 85 ppm in children's shampoos. It should be noted that with the introduction of closer monitoring and modern practices, manufacturers are typically able to eliminate these byproducts from personal care products.

While we don't use PEGs in any of our personal care products, they are found in some of our machine detergents - including the ingredients PPG-4 Laureth-5, Deceth-6, Ceteareth-25 and Laureth-7. We only use them when necessary in this context, and consider this acceptable while they do not come into direct skin contact with the user.

Other names: PEG, PEG-1M, PEG-7

Chemical class: Alkoxylated Alcohols, Polymeric Ethers


Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (2016). Amended Safety Assessment of PEG Propylene Glycol Derivatives as Used in Cosmetics. Retrieved on August 24, 2021 from

Black, R. E., Hurley, F. J., & Havery, D. C. (2001). Occurrence of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetic raw materials and finished cosmetic products. Journal of AOAC International, 84(3), 666–670.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 174, 1,2-Ethanediol.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 31275, Dioxane.

INCI Name:
Ingredient origins:
Synthetic, Hydrocarbons
Emulsion Stabiliser, Surfactant, Viscosity Modifying Agent
Common name:
EWG score: The EWG score is a hazard score ranging from 1-2 (low hazard), 3-6 (moderate hazard) and 7-10 (high hazard) published by the Environmental Working Group. Their data is sourced from the Skin Deep® database and studies published in open scientific literature.