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Ingredient Watch - PEGs and PPGs

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Written by Marijo Cuerrier
Brand Manager - Ste. Anne's Skin Nourishment

I have always had a love for natural products. See my earlier blog post about my first love with The Body Shop when I was younger. That love has evolved into being a part of the creation of a high quality, natural Canadian product line at Ste. Anne's Spa. I love my job! With the creation of this new line there was certainly an enourmous amount of research and a steep learning curve. It was important for me to know that we had created a product that we could stand behind 100%.

Prior to being involved in the creation of our own product line, I naively thought that anything on a Canadian shelf was full of ingredients that were not only safe for me to use, but also good for me to use. What an eye opener to find out that many ingredients in products are not safe, or good for you.

In this article, I will be highlighting a few ingredients that we chose to avoid in the manufacturing of our product line and why we chose to avoid them. My goal is to arm you with a basic understanding of ingredients in your products so that you can shop more intelligently and safely.

Polyethylene Glycol & Propylene Glycol (PEGs and PPGs)
These ingredients are used in many products as a thickener, a solvent, a softener, and as a moisture-carrier. They are also a popular emulsifier - helping to mix two products that normally don't mix together, for example oil and water. Most cream-based products need some kind of emulsifier in them.

There are all sorts of names for this ingredient and it is used in many products on Canadian shelves, but its safety for use in cosmetics is controversial. There are no restrictions on the use of PEGs in cosmetics in Canada. In the case of Propylene Glycol, as with many ingredients in products, it might not be the ingredient itself that is harmful but process it goes through before it is used in a product that is the problem.

The main health concern that this ingredient is known for is that, depending on the manufacturing processes, it can contain carcinogenic contaminants. It can also cause allergic reactions in some, and PEG compounds themselves show some evidence that they can cause gene mutations, leading to  cancer. It also functions as a "penetration enhancer", increasing the permeability of the skin to allow greater absorption of the product — which can mean better penetration of any other harmful ingredients that may lurk in the ingredient list. Scary stuff!

I don't know about you, but it's not something I want to put on my skin, or the skin of those I love (or anyone else for that matter!). You will be happy to know that we did not use PPG's or PEGs when making Ste. Anne's Skin Nourishment so you can relax and enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of knowledge sharing. Look for future "Ingredient Watch" posts in coming weeks.

For more information on this ingredient, refer to or to