Written by Mindy Goldstein, PhD (Mindy S. Goldstein, PhD Consulting) and Irwin Palefsky (Cosmetech Laboratories, Inc.)
Recently the New York State Legislature passed a bill that prohibits the sale of cosmetics, personal care or cleaning products containing trace amounts of 1,4-Dioxane.
The threshold contamination for leave-on cosmetics is not to exceed 10 parts per million and for rinse-off personal care products such as shampoos and cleansers (i.e. mostly down the drain products) it is 2 parts per million by December 31, 2022 and not to exceed 1 part per million by December 31, 2023. These levels will be reviewed again in 2025 and every two years after that, hence they may be lowered even further.
The compound 1,4-dioxane is a trace contaminant in some cosmetic products. While it is not added as an ingredient in cosmetics it may be present in extremely small amounts in some cosmetics.1,4-dioxane forms as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain cosmetic ingredients.
These ingredients include certain detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and solvents identifiable by the prefix, word, or syllables: “PEG”, “Polyethylene glycol”, “Polyoxyethylene”, “-eth-“, or “-oxynol-.” Ethoxylation, or the addition of ethylene oxide or polyethylene glycol to a material is primarily used to increase or control the water solubility of a predominantly water insoluble material.
This led to the use of ethoxylated surfactants/emulsifiers as workhorses in making stable creams and lotions, cleansing products as well as their use as solubilizers for oils and fragrances (i.e. polysorbate-80, sodium laureth sulfate, PEG-100 stearate, laureth-23).
SO, YOU HAVE TO REMOVE ETHOXYLATES FROM YOUR FORMULAS, NOW WHAT?
Because of the “1,4 Dioxane” issue there is a growing need to look for alternatives to ethoxylated materials.
Currently there are a number of ingredients available in the industry. The technology that has surfaced as the most viable option to ethoxylates is the use of polyglycerin esters. Polyglycerol derived materials are produced by the addition of multiple glycerin units to a material to control its water solubility and allow their use as emulsifiers and solubilizers.
Examples of some of these commercially available materials are:
- polyglyceryl-6 laurate, polyglyceryl-3 stearate, polyglyceryl-6 caprylate,
- polyglyceryl-6 ricinoleate,
- polyglyceryl-6 distearate.
- Additional emulsifiers such as sucrose esters, and glucosides are also being used as alternatives to ethoxylates (i.e. sucrose stearate, cocoyl glucoside).
It is important to note that none of these options are a direct one to one replacement for the ethoxylated surfactants. The use of these materials in place of ethoxylates does require case by case evaluation.
For further discussion, feel free to contact us directly.