Is Ceteareth-20 Secure?

Ceteareth-20 is a skin care and cosmetic ingredient that is used to improve the texture and stability of products. Ceteareth is a synthetic compound that acts as an emulsifier and surfactant in formulations.

The group of Ceteareth ingredients are synthetic compounds that are synthesized by a process known as ethoxylation, a chemical reaction in which ethylene oxide is added to a substrate. When it comes to the ceteareth ingredients, there are two substrates: cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, both of which are naturally derived from coconut oil. The number associated with ceteareth-20 indicates the average number of repeating ethylene oxide units in the molecule, in this case 20. There are a total of 32 different types of ceteareth components.

the breakdown


the good:Ceteareth-20 helps improve the texture and stability of a product.

not that good:There is concern about the presence of 1,4-dioxane in this ingredient. This concern is less relevant nowadays as the process of purifying ceteareth-20 is highly regulated.

For whom is that?All skin types except those identified as having an allergy.

Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on:There is nothing to observe here.

What is Ceteareth-20 used for?

Ceteareth-20 acts as a surfactant and emulsifier in many different cosmetic and skin care products, including facials Moisturizers, Anti aging treatments, conditioners, cleansers, sunscreens, scrubs and acne treatments.

Surfactant is the other name for surface active agents. Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension between two substances, such as two liquids or a liquid and a solid. in the Skin care Products, surfactants degrease and emulsify oils and fats and suspend dirt so that they can be washed away. This is possible because while one end of the surfactant molecule is attracted to water, the other end is attracted to oil. This is how surfactants attract and wash away the oil, dirt, and other impurities that have built up on your skin during the day. Because of these properties, Ceteareth-20 is found in many different cleaning products and body wash products.

Emulsifier and stabilizer
Ceteareth-20 also acts as an emulsifier. An emulsifier is required for products that contain both water and oil components, for example when oils are added to a water-based formula. When water and oil are mixed together, they often separate and divide in the product over time. To address this problem, an emulsifier can be added to make a stable emulsion.

As an emulsifier, Ceteareth-20 consists of a water-loving hydrophilic head and an oil-loving hydrophobic tail. The hydrophilic head is directed towards the aqueous phase and the hydrophobic tail towards the oil phase. Again, Ceteareth-20 reduces the surface tension by positioning itself at the oil / water or air / water interface, which has a stabilizing effect on the emulsion.

Is Ceteareth-20 Safe?

The Panel of Experts for the Review of Cosmetic Ingredients (CIR)A group responsible for evaluating the safety of skin care and cosmetic ingredients reviewed the scientific data and concluded that the ceteareth ingredients in cosmetic products are safe. The CIR panel of experts stated that ceteareth ingredients should not be applied to damaged skin. This conclusion was based on research that kidney damage occurred when polyethylene glycol (PEG) ingredients were applied to the damaged skin of burn patients. Since ceteareth ingredients are the polyethylene glycol ethers of cetearyl alcohol, the CIR panel of experts recommends avoiding the use of ceteareth ingredients on damaged skin.

Despite the approval of the CIR expert panel, ceteareth-20 is often referred to as a “toxic” ingredient that should be avoided. One reason ceteareth-20 got a bad rap is because of possible contamination with 1,4-dioxane. This is because the ethoxylation process can lead to contamination with 1,4-dioxane, a potentially dangerous by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen that easily penetrates the skin. According to the National Toxicology Program, “It is believed that 1,4-dioxane is a human carcinogen.” It has also been linked to skin allergies. However, the possible presence of 1,4-dioxane can be controlled through purification steps to remove it before ceteareth-20 is mixed into cosmetic formulations.

References:Keen, M & Hassan, I, 2016. “Vitamin E in Dermatology”, Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 7 (4), 311-315.
Neighbor, F & Korting, H, 1995. “The role of vitamin E in normal and damaged skin”, Journal of Molecular Medicine, 73, 7-17.

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