The Dangers of Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycol is another petroleum based glycol that is damaging to the skin and entire body.  It’s prolific in the health and beauty industry because it helps improve the consistency and short-term function of products, but it has long-term side effects that are ultimately counter-productive.

What is Polyethylene Glycol?

Polyethylene Glycol, also known as PEGs, are petroleum compounds used in skin care, and personal care items and cosmetics, as well as pharmaceutical laxatives.  PEGs are a classification of ethylene glycol polymers that function as humectants (moisturizers), solvents (congeals ingredients to form a solution) and stabilizers (for uniformity).  They help balance pH levels in products, moisturize, thicken products and encourage skin penetration.

PEGs are often found in moisturizers, creams, sunscreens, serums, cosmetic cream bases, facial and body cleansers and many baby products.  They are also used in laxatives to help trap water in stool to relieve constipation. 

Why is Polyethylene Glycol Dangerous? 

Manufacturers use PEGs to help their products absorb deeply into skin to increase their effectiveness.  For a skincare product, that is a very good goal, however the method and execution is quite flawed when it comes to PEGs.  While the product itself may penetrate the skin more easily with PEGs, so will the chemicals that PEGs contain. 

According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) committee, PEGs are often contaminated with pollutants including ethylene oxide, dioxane, polycyclic aromatic compounds and heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, cobalt and iron.  This not only damages skin, it counteracts the skins defense mechanisms against antimicrobials.  By increasing skin permeability and allowing pollutants to enter the body through the skin’s surface, we are susceptible to a variety of issues that arise from chemical contamination. 

On the skin itself, PEGs can cause an opposite response to the goal of most skincare products.  It can create skin rashes and contact dermatitis, and also robs the skin of its natural moisture.  Much of skin’s moisture comes from oils it secretes as part of the immune system.  When the oil is inhibited, skin is more vulnerable to absorption of foreign substances.  It is especially harmful on skin that is already damaged and with open wounds, such as acne, cuts or blisters.  In these instances, it can irritate skin further and cause system toxicity. 

Moreover, the contaminants often found in PEGs are known carcinogens.  Specifically, they have been linked to breast cancer, leukemia, brain and nervous system cancer, bladder cancer, stomach cancer and pancreatic cancer, as well as Hodgkin’s disease.  They have proved to interfere with development, especially the nervous system, and may cause kidney and liver organ toxicity. 

PEGs are a serious health risk when applied to skin.  Like the other glycols, they can be more irritating to skin than helpful, and the leave the body vulnerable to cancer and other diseases.  PEGs can be vacuum striped from products in the manufacturing process but there is no way for consumers to know if a product has undergone this procedure.

At Natura Veda, we believe that skincare shouldn’t put your skin or your body at risk.  For this reason, we diligently avoid PEGs in our skincare products.  Our Moringa-based products contain a high concentration of oleic acid, a natural way to help nutrients absorb deeply into skin layers.  Oleic acid doesn’t damage the skin’s natural oil defense mechanisms, thereby strengthening skin and allowing it to do it’s job in protecting the body, the all-natural way.