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Ethoxylated Ingredients - Hidden Toxins in your Skincare Products

ethoxylated ingredients 1,4 dioxane, ethylene oxide, no pufa skincare

When it comes to toxic ingredients to avoid in your skincare products I would say that ethoxylated ingredients should be at the top of your list. 


Ethoxylation is a chemical process used to make surfactants that are used in laundry soaps, body washes, face washes, hair products, toothpastes and bubble baths.


The concern with ethoxylated ingredients is that they are almost always contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide, two highly toxic & carcinogenic chemicals. 


There are so many ethoxylated ingredients in personal care products it’s nearly impossible to know which ones have them, and which ones don’t. 


57% of baby soap, 82% of hair dyes, 36% of moisturizers, 34% of body lotion, 35% of anti-aging products and 33% of eye creams had 1,4-dioxane. In a 2016 study, 28% of kid's beauty products had ethoxylated ingredients on their labels. Most recently, in the 2018 survey by the FDA of 82 children's products, including bath, lotions, soaps, body washes, shampoos, and other products, 57% had a detectable amount of 1,4-dioxane.     


Now here's the crazy part, the FDA does not require companies to disclose whether their ingredients are ethoxylated as well as if the products containing ethoxylated ingredients are contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and/or ethylene oxide. 


So how do you know whether an ingredient is ethoxylated?


You'll want to pay attention to any synthetic ingredients in the formula. If you notice an ingredient that ends in ETH then that indicates that that ingredient has been ethoxylated and is probably contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide. 

For example: most of us are familiar with a surfactant called Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLS. It's had a bad reputation in the skincare industry for being harsh, damaging hair, drying out skin and causes contact dermatitis. But what no one talks about is that SLS is also ethoxylated and contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide. 

And so are many other surfactants, a lot that are used in natural products! 

So be sure to check for synthetics ending in ETH.  

Here are some other examples of ethoxylated surfactants & ingredients:

  • Sodium Coceth Sulfate
  • Sodium Deceth Sulfate
  • Sodium Oleth Sulfate 
  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate
  • Sodium Trideceth Sulfate 
  • Zinc Coceth Sulfate

And it doesn't end with surfactants! There are many more common ingredients used abundantly in our products! 

Polyethylene glycol or more commonly labeled as PEGs. Look out for any ingredients with a PEG- prefix such as PEG-20, PEG 40 etc.

And also...

Polysorbate-20, -40, -60, -80. 

Steareth – 2, -4, 10, 16, -20, 21

Isosteareth -2, -10, -20

Magnesium Laureth Sulfate, Magnesium Oleth Sulfate

Phenoxyethanol, Polyoxyethylene

There's many more, too many to list. Your best bet is to buy from companies who are clean, green and 100% transparent with their ingredients. Trust is important. 

And to top it off, ethoxylated ingredients are able to penetrate the skin deeper than other ingredients (one reason why companies like to use PEGs to enhance product penetration which may give better results, but at what expense?) 

PS: The surfactant Decyl Glucoside used in my Chamomile Herb Cleansing Gel is not only ethoxylate-free, but also Ecocert certified, sugar derived, biodegradable and super gentle! It has a soft silky feel and won’t leave your skin irritated, tight or dry. 


Gotta love the super sneaky dirty skincare industry. And people like us who are sick of it.

Besides Kossma, what are some other clean brands that so not use ethoxylated ingredients? 

Haircare: Innersense, Evolvh, Tabitha James, California Baby, Josh Rose Brook, MO MI. 

Body: My favorite soap is by Fancy Farm! It's a tallow soap bar. By far, the best thing I've ever used on my skin. Very gentle, moisturizing and doesn't leave me tight or dry. 

Makeup: Kosas, Ilia, Honest Beauty, RMS Beauty. 

Sunscreen: Pipette 

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