If you read through the ingredient list on your shampoo, you're likely to find “glycol distearate.” This chemical compound is used as an emollient in cosmetic products, and is a combination of ethylene glycol (colorless chemical) and stearic acid (a common fatty acid). It also has a high foaming capacity, so you may find it in your liquid soap or hand sanitizer, as well as in bubble baths and body washes.
Though generally considered safe, this ingredient comes up short when compared to natural alternatives.
It may seem luxurious, but is it really nourishing your skin?
What is Glycol Distearate?
A close relative to glycol stearate and glycol stearate SE, glycol distearate is a white to cream-colored waxy solid used to condition skin, to increase the thickness of certain cosmetic products (like creams and lotions), and to reduce the clear or transparent appearance of cosmetics, such as in make-up concealers. Glycol distearate in particular is often used as a “pearlizing” agent in body washes, to give the formula that pearlescent look that seems so inviting.
The chemical may be derived either from animal sources (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable sources, such as soybean oil and canola oil. It can also be produced synthetically through processing stearic acid.
What are the Concerns?
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel reported no human skin irritation or sensitization from glycol distearate. The concerns with this ingredient are probably mostly focused on allergies, in that if you're allergic, it's best to stay away.
What most people don't like about this ingredient is that it's made from ethylene glycol, which is used to make antifreeze, de-icing solutions for cars and planes, hydraulic brake fluids, lacquers, resins, wood stains, synthetic waxes, and the like. Though small amounts aren't likely to harm your health, it's still doesn't seem like putting a chemical like this (mixed with animal or vegetable fat) will benefit your skin, does it?
I say why not use true, nourishing choices like aloe, shea butter, jojoba oil, and other wonderful ingredients to condition skin? Why not use rosemary oil, like I do in my Rosemary Peppermint Body Wash, to provide gentle cleansing, while adding in olive oil for moisturizing and essential fatty acids?
And who needs the cream to be especially thick or pearlescent, anyway? A lot of what we pay for in standard personal care products are formulas made to have us think that they're healthy and lovely and rich and luxurious for our skin, when actually, we're applying a smooth, pearlescent chemical concoction that has few, if any, true benefits to the health of the skin.
Using natural ingredients gives us not only skin conditioning and cleansing benefits, but the added protection of antioxidants and essential fatty acids to help our skin truly thrive.
Glycol distearate? Your skin deserves better.
Do you avoid glycol distearate? Please share your thoughts.
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Photo courtesy Kwai7a .. »MiSs_7aRaKaaT« ;)! via Flickr.com.