I’ve spent a bit of time recently looking at the way ‘non natural’ brands mix oil into water. You probably already know that a lot of skincare products contain mostly water as their bulk ingredient with their ‘star’ ingredient comprising a much, much smaller percentage e.g. rosehip oil, safflower oil, jojoba oil etc. So, what is needed to mix the bland water with the superstar oil? Answer, an emulsifier. There are natural emulsifiers and not so natural emulsifiers.
The 100% natural emulsifier I’m learning to work with is Olivem1000, a completely natural emulsifier based on natural olive chemistry. This is a great ingredient because not only does it perform the magic required to allow oils to mix with waters, it is also an active ingredient in its own right as it helps keep the skin moisturized.
The way ‘non natural’ brands (and even some ‘natural’ brands) mix their oils into water, is by using polyethylene glycols or PEG’s for short. I’m glad we have an abbreviation to use!
PEG, an abbreviation of polyethylene glycol, is not a single chemical entity, instead it is a mixture of compounds. So we have various compounds bonded together and let us all know and be clear that polyethylene is the most common form of plastic…..lovely, let’s slap some plastic on our skin.
PEG’s are always followed by numbers e.g. PEG-40. The number represents the molecular weight of the compound. The lower the number the easier it is for the chemical to penetrate the skin. Penetration is an important factor.
PEG’s may contain impurities that are linked to some nasty medical conditions. I’m not in the business of scare tactics, so I’m not going to fixate on this point, but it’s worth being aware of what might be going on with these manufacturing processes. Do you want something potentially toxic easily penetrating your skin? I’m pretty sure I don’t like the sound of that.
So, letting that all sink in, I think I’ll stick to an ingredient that is derived from olives, like Olivem1000. I’m picturing sweeping olive grove scenes, sunshine and blue skies.
I’ll try and keep the PEG’s confined to the washing line.
What about you? Are there any natural brands in your bathroom cabinet or your bag that contain PEGs? Let me know, I’d love to hear.