EWG level: 3
This is a synthetic surfactant composed of polyethylene glycol polymer and stearyl alcohol. The Steareth ingredients (Steareth-2, Steareth-4, Steareth-6, Steareth-7, Steareth-10, Steareth-11, Steareth-13, Steareth-15, Steareth-20) are polyethylene glycol ethers of stearci acid. They are waxy compounds. The Steareths are prepared by reacting ethylene oxide with stearyl alcohol where the numerical value in the name corresponds to the average number of units of ethylene oxide. For example, Steareth-2 is prepared using an average of 2 units of ethylene oxide reacted with stearyl alcohol. In cosmetics and personal care products, Steareth ingredients are used in the formulation of personal cleanliness products and deodorants, as well as suntan, fragrance, skin, eye and hair products. When added to cosmetics and personal care products, the Steareth ingredients reduce the interactive forces between molecules of other liquids so that an emulsion is formed. If an ingredient such as a Steareth is not added to some personal care products, the ingredients in the product would separate like some salad dressings.
Its functions are: Surfactant – Emulsifying Agent
Ecotoxicology Concerns, “Suspected to be an environmental toxin (Environment Canada Domestic Substance List)
Not suspected to be persistent and bioaccumulative (Environment Canada Domestic Substance List)
Designated as safe for general or specific, limited use in food (FDA Food Additive Status)