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Take a look at the ingredient list on your facial cleanser, body wash, toner, or moisturizer, and see if you find polysorbate 20 in your skin care products. If you do, you may want to shop for something better next time—particularly if your child uses the product, too.
Before you buy another bottle of that lotion, check to see if it has polysorbate 20.
What is Polysorbate 20 in Skin Care?
In its original form, polysorbate is a harmless sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol. For its use in personal care products, however, it's treated with ethylene oxide. Thus, the name “polysorbate 20,” because it's treated with 20 parts of ethylene oxide.
The result is an ingredient used as an emulsifier in cosmetic creams, lotions, cream deodorant, baby oil, sun lotion, etc. It is used to help mix oil and water.
Why is Polysorbate 20 Bad for Your Skin?
The problem with any ingredient that is treated with ethylene oxide (or “ethoxylated”) is that it can then become contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a potentially dangerous toxicity ingredient. In fact, 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics is a known animal carcinogen that penetrates readily into the skin. This ingredient has also been linked with skin allergies. There is so much concern about this contaminant that a class-action lawsuit was filed in New Jersey against manufacturers of children's bath and personal-care products. Defendants manufactured, distributed, marketed, or sold products containing formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
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More Concerns about 1,4-Dioxane in Cosmetics
The Organic Consumers Organization, adopting information from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, released a fact sheet on 1,4-dioxane. They report that the levels of 1,4-dioxane found in many personal care products are 1,000 times higher than those found to cause cancer in animal studies. They add that according to the FDA, “Skin absorption studies demonstrated that dioxane readily penetrates animal and human skin from various types of vehicles.”
This can be especially concerning if you're taking a hot bath or shower. As your pores open up, your skin could be taking in even more of the 1,4-dioxane in the product.
Other Polysorbate 20 Toxicity Concerns
Other concerns with polysorbate-20 side effects in skin care are that it resulted in developmental and reproductive toxicity in animal studies, but high doses were administered before these results were observed. Moderate doses are also linked with skin irritation.
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As I've often said, if you were exposed to this ingredient only once in awhile, you likely would have no reason to be concerned. The problem is that most of us use 10 or more products a day, several times a day, every day. If even a couple of those has polysorbate-20, the exposure could be adding up, especially if it's penetrating the skin.
The concern is even greater for young children.
How to Avoid Polysorbate 20 in Skin Care?
To avoid this ingredient, just read the ingredient lists on labels. It's easy enough to find. Better yet, prioritize shopping at whole foods stores, organic shops, and online stores that offer natural and nourishing alternatives.
You can also visit our online store for products that are free of Polysorbate 20 and safe for you and your family.
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Annmarie Gianni is a mother, health activist, entrepreneur, and founder of 3 successful businesses. Over ten years ago, she and her husband, Kevin, formed a team and Annmarie Skin Care was founded to provide a clean, natural skin care experience using natural, organic and wildcrafted ingredients. After a few years of focusing on creating a successful skin care business, Annmarie was able to step away and focus on raising her kids. Today, you’d find Annmarie volunteering her time at her kid’s school, helping out at community events, going on trail runs, and spending quality time with her family.
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