Polysorbate: The Good Chemical Gone Bad

This dangerous chemical is most prevalent in cosmetic products as it emulsifies the solution, making sure the ingredients mix properly. It can also be found in lip balms, deodorants, creams and lotions just to name a few.

It’s surprising how many toxic compounds exist in the conventional products we use every day – especially in personal care products. Some contain artificial fragrances. Some contain synthetic texturizing substances. Some even go as far as using cheap chemical emulsifiers that may lead to cancer. Polysorbate 20 is very common in personal care products, and a very dangerous one.

Synthesis and use

Regular, untreated polysorbate isn’t considered dangerous. But, in order to synthetically create polysorbate 20, the chemical must be treated 20 times with a known carcinogen called ethylene oxide. This dangerous chemical is most prevalent in cosmetic products as it emulsifies the solution, making sure the ingredients mix properly. It can also be found in lip balms, deodorants, creams and lotions just to name a few.

Main concerns regarding polysorbate 20

The possibility of contamination is the main concern with polysorbate 20. After treatment, the chemical could potentially mix with 1,4-dioxane, its by-product. 1,4-dioxane is a cancer-causing compound known for its highly toxic and pollutant nature. Since many products use polysorbate 20, accumulation is definitely a concern. Exposing yourself to 1,4-dioxanne multiple times a day, every day, can do serious harm to your health. It’s best not to apply products which contain polysorbate 20 in the shower or bath since your pores will be open and your body will be more likely to absorb the chemical.

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