What’s a PEG and what does it have to do with my moisturizer?

You might have heard a little bit about PEG's before, or maybe not, but whether you've heard of it or not this particular ingredient is in A LOT of different skincare and beauty products! However, when it comes to Element Mom products this is one ingredient you WON'T be seeing, and today we're going to tell you WHY.

Alright...so what IS it? In the world of skincare there's no shortage of acronyms. This means it can be incredibly easy to get confused when it comes to deciphering them! In this case, PEG stands for Polyethylene Glycol. They are petroleum-based compounds that you can find in everything from baby wipes and household cleaners to your favorite night cream. Not only that but PEGs in various forms are used in numerous industries including medical, cosmetic, and even pharmaceuticals!

What does it DO that makes it so widely utilized in such a broad spectrum of products? Well...the short answer is a lot! In cosmetics PEGs are most commonly used as a base for formulas, particularly cream-based products. They're great skin conditioners and even better vehicles for hydration, which in turn makes them a perfect vehicle for a skincare formula that wants to target and deliver moisture deep down. That sounds pretty perfect, right? The problem here doesn’t lie in the ingredient itself. Instead, it can be found in the manufacturing process of PEGs.

PEGs have been deemed largely safe to use in skincare, however, this can depend largely on how they're made. In order to make PEGs you're relying on a chemical reaction involving ethylene oxide or ethylene glycol, one of which is used to produce chemicals like antifreeze or pesticide and the latter of which is actually used as antifreeze. Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen with a decent rap sheet of concerns ranging from nervous system issues to possible interference in human development, and it scores a whopping 6 on the EWG’s Skin Deep rating scale.

Aside from potential ethylene oxide contamination, there's also the chance of 1,4-dioxane contamination. This particular byproduct isn’t even IN the EWG Skin Deep ratings, instead, you can find it in their Guide to Healthy Cleaning ratings where it scored an F for numerous reasons involving its status as a carcinogen and its potential to cause cancer. These aren't ingredients that are supposed to be in your skincare, you certainly won't find them on the label, but because of the way PEGs are created they could unintentionally BE in that product. Not only that but these PEGs are great vehicles, right? They're FABULOUS at helping penetrate deeper into the skin. That's a great thing for good ingredients, but not so great for the bad ones!

These are the big reasons you're not going to see it in any of our formulas. When your main goal is to create SAFE, clean, fabulous skincare for mamas of every shape and size at every stage of their journey to and through motherhood...having an ingredient that might contain a contaminant that could harm our mamas or their little beans-to-be? Not really on the agenda! There are ways to ensure contaminants don't result from PEG usage in skincare, but the #1 sure-fire way to render those contaminants obsolete is not to use the ingredient that can produce said contaminants in the first place, which is exactly where we've landed.

Instead, we've opted for safer hydration delivery systems by amping up the number and weights of hyaluronic acids in our formulas and using ingredients like Centella Asiatica that are lightweight enough to penetrate into deeper layers of skin and be more effective as a result. By experimenting with the formula and pulling together all of our favorite moisturizing agents we're able to forego PEG's altogether to create cleaner, safer skincare that mamas-to-be can use confidently!

The moral of the story here is simple. While in general PEGs in skincare haven't been blacklisted some of their byproducts certainly have been. When it comes to pregnancy and skincare we know we have to be more cautious than we might otherwise be when selecting certain ingredients. There is no way to tell if a product containing PEGs also contains the contaminant byproducts that can be caused in the creation of those PEGs without testing. The easiest route here is pure avoidance. By avoiding PEGs altogether you remove the possibility of the potential contaminants associated with them. 

Safe, clean, nourishing skincare equals beautiful skin and a happy, healthy mama-to-be. ♥️