Hidden Chemicals: PEGs

Is Your Shampoo Contaminated?

PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds that are used in cosmetics as solvents, thickeners, softeners and moisture-carriers.  They are commonly used as cream bases. The primary concern around PEGs is not the PEG themselves, but possible carcinogenic contaminants during the manufacturing process.   PEGs are often contaminated with ethylene oxide, an known human carcinogen (1), and 1,4-dioxane a suspected carcinogen. 1,4-dioxane is generated through a process called ethoxylstion, in which ethylene oxide, an known carcinogen, is added to  other chemicals to make them less harsh. For example, when sodium laurel sulphate is converted to sodium laureate sulphate (the “eth” is ethoxylstion) the conversion process can lead to contamination of this ingredient with 1,4-diaxane.


  • liquid soap
  • shampoo
  • bubble bath
  • facial cleansers
  • hair relaxers


Sodium laureath sulfate, PEG compounds, and chemicals that include the clauses xenon, ceteareth and oleth


Cancer:  research shows that dioxane penetrates the skin and is considered a probable human carcinogen. 

Read More:

  1. BHA
  2. Coal Tar Dyes
  3. DEA
  4. Dibutyl Phthalate
  5. Formaldehyde
  6. Parabens
  7. Parfum
  8. PEG Compounds
  9. Petrolatum
  10. Siloxanes
  11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  12. Triclosan

Additional References: