PEG-4 Distearate

What Is It?

The PEG Distearate ingredients (PEG-2 Distearate, PEG-3 Distearate, PEG-4 Distearate, PEG-6 Distearate, PEG-8 Distearate, PEG-9 Distearate, PEG-12 Distearate, PEG-20 Distearat, PEG-32 Distearate, PEG-75 Distearate, PEG-120 Distearate, PEG-150 Distearate, PEG-175 Distearate) range from liquids to solids or flakes. In cosmetics and personal care products, PEG Distearate ingredients are used in the formulation of shampoos, hair conditioners, personal cleanliness products, bath products, and skin care and skin cleansing products.

Why Is It Used?

PEG Distearate ingredients clean the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away. They also help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified and help other ingredients to dissolve in a solvent in which they would not normally dissolve.

Scientific Facts

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Distearates are produced from stearic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid, which occurs in animal fats and oils. PEG Distearates are manufactured by reacting stearic acid with a specific number of units of ethylene oxide which corresponds to the average PEG chain length desired.

Safety Information

The safety of the PEG Distearate ingredients has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that PEG-2, -3, -4, -6, -8, -9, -12, -20, -32, -75, -120, -150 and -175 Distearate were safe for use in cosmetic formulations.

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel noted that not all of the polymer chain lengths covered in this assessment were reported to be used, but all are listed as cosmetic ingredients and may have been used in the past and could be used in the future. Very little toxicity data were available for the PEG Distearate ingredients. Related compounds including PEGs, PEGs Stearate, Steareths and Stearic Acid, have previously been reviewed. In general, PEG ingredients have a low level toxicity whether the exposure is oral or dermal.

Minimal ocular irritation is seen with PEGs, PEG Stearates, Steareths and Stearic Acid. No evidence of mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, or reproductive and developmental toxicity of these related compounds was found.

Use of PEG containing antibiotic ointment has been associated with kidney effects in burn patients. Kidney effects were only observed when the ointment was used several times each day over a large area of burned skin. The CIR Expert Panel recommended that cosmetic manufacturers should continue to adjust product formulations to minimize any untoward effects for products intended to be used on damaged skin. PEG Stearates, Steareths and Stearic Acid were not irritants, sensitizers, or phototoxins.

Small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a by-product of ethoxylation, may be found in PEG-Distearate ingredients. The potential presence of this material is well known and can be controlled through purification steps to remove it from the ingredients before blending into cosmetic formulations.

More information about what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is doing to assure that cosmetics do not contain unsafe levels of 1,4-dioxane.

If the Stearic Acid used to make PEG Distearates complies with European Union animal by-products legislation, PEG Distearates may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation

More Scientific Information

PEG Distearate ingredients are the polyethylene glycol diesters of stearic acid. In cosmetics and personal care products, PEG Distearates are used as surfactants (emulsifying agents, cleansing agents, and solubilizing agents).