Need to Know Facts on PEGs


PEG, which is the abbreviation of polyethylene glycol, is not a definite chemical entity in itself, but rather a mixture of compounds, of polymers that have been bonded together. Polyethylene is the most common form of plastic, and when combined with glycol, it becomes a thick and sticky liquid. In cosmetics, PEGs function in three ways:

·      As emollients which help to soften and lubricate skin

·      As emulsifiers which help water-based and oil-based ingredients mix properly

·      As consistency regulators

Like the chemical crown ethers, PEGs are able to loosen heavy metals like nickel e.g. from fashion jewelry. When combined with atmospheric oxygen and sun radiation they form irritating peroxides and are therefore mostly stabilized with synthetic antioxidants not exactly something you want to go on your skin.

Because PEGs can mobilize and transport sensitizing heavy metals into the skin, they should be avoided by those who have broken or damaged skin, especially if there are undesirable ingredients or medication applied simultaneously to the skin. For example: you would never want heavy metal oxides (used for color) to go deeper into your skin. In summary, even though the 2005 Toxicology and Preclinical Affairs state that the sensitizing potential of PEGs appears to be negative on healthy skin, the facts raise questions.

author's note: all dermaviduals® products are free of PEGs.



Susan Schulz