Ingredients to Avoid: PEGs

I’m back for another post in my Ingredients to Avoid series and this time I’m talking all about PEGs. Come with me to learn what they are, how to spot them and why I choose to avoid them! I’d love to hear your recommendations for brands that don’t use PEGs too!

Ingredients to Avoid: PEGs | I Spy Plum Pie

First things first, what are PEGs?

PEGs is the abbreviation of polyethylene glycol, which is a group of polymers which are added to products to keep them stable, as emollients, emulsifiers and to enhance the penetration of other ingredients into our skin.

PEGs are usually listed with a number, for example PEG-50, which indicates how many units of ethylene they are comprised of – the lower the number the easier they are absorbed into the skin.

So why are they a problem?

For some people PEGs will be an irritant resulting in dry skin and they have also been known to be contaminated by heavy metals and even 1,4 Dioxane, which has been linked to reproductive issues and cancer.

The biggest problem is that due to the fact PEGs assist the absorption of products into your skin they are likely to increase exposure to other toxins. Products that use PEGs commonly also use parabens, synthetic fragrances, SLES and the like. As a result those nasties will end up in your body much more readily, and we don’t want that!

How to spot PEGs

PEGs are used in a broad range of products including skincare, hair products, make up and body products. You can spot them under a few names, including:

  • Propylene Glycol
  • Proptylene Glycol
  • 1,2-Propanediol
  • Ingredients with “eth” in the name, like polyethylene glycol

What are the alternatives?

Thankfully there are lots of natural alternatives that are also excellent emulsifiers and emollients, so there are plenty of brands that are PEG free. They will usually make that fact very clear on their packaging, but some of my favourite PEG-free skincare and makeup brands include:

  • Go-To Skincare
  • Sukin
  • Nude by Nature
  • Inika
  • GAIA skincare

What are your thoughts on PEGs in skincare?

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2 Comments on Ingredients to Avoid: PEGs

  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    October 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm (8 years ago)

    I’d never heard of PEGs until now. I’m off to check the ingredients in my skincare products and I’ll certainly be a lot more vigilant in future!

    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      October 6, 2016 at 7:40 pm (8 years ago)

      Thankfully there are lots of eco-friendly options out there these days!


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