Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate
* An emulsifier
* Also known as Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate
* Sometimes classified as a PEG - Please read TIA's post on What Is It: PEGs
Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate is used in cosmetics and beauty products primarily as a surfactant and emulsifier. It has the ability to be effective at low concentrations, to remain a stable ingredient, and is less irritating than many other conventional surfactants, according to a 1978 Japanese study
entitled "Some characteristics of polyoxyethylene sorbitol tetra-oleate: Oligomer type emulsifier." CosmeticsInfo.org
also notes that Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate, as part of the PEG Sorbitan/Sorbitol Fatty Acid Esters group, reduces surface tension in emulsions, therefore making it easier for other ingredients to dissolve. It also helps water and oil, and oil and dirt, to mix, therefore allowing them to be whisked away more easily.
Also known as Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate has a molecular weight associated with all PEGs. Its low molecular weight of 30 means that it can penetrate healthy skin, but minimally.
Despite the many fears regarding PEGs, they are seen as an ingredient in a large number of products because of their diverse properties. In a study published in the Toxicology journal
in 2005, entitled "Safety assessment on polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and their derivatives as used in cosmetic products," it was concluded that: "Taking into consideration all available information from related compounds, as well as the mode and mechanism of action, no safety concern with regard to these endpoints could be identified. Based on the available data it is therefore concluded that PEGs of a wide molecular weight range (200 to over 10,000), their ethers (laureths. ceteths, ceteareths, steareths, and oleths), and fatty acid esters (laurates, dilaurates, stearates, distearates) are safe for use in cosmetics."
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
The Cosmetics Database
found Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate (listed as Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate) to be a 100% safe ingredient. Polysorbates, a related ingredient, have been known to cause liver and pancreas problems and toxicity. According to CosmeticsInfo.org
, the CIR found that "These ingredients were readily hydrolyzed by blood and pancreatic lipases, with the fatty acid moiety absorbed and metabolized as any dietary fatty acid and the PEG Sorbitan moiety excreted mainly in the urine." However, it is also noted that "Growth retardation and diarrhea, microscopic changes of the urinary bladder, spleen, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract, and decreased body and organ weights, and hepatic lesions were noted in subchronic feeding studies, whereas other studies found no effects. One chronic toxicity study noted microscopic lesions of the urinary bladder, kidneys, spleen, and gastrointestinal tract, whereas other studies were negative."
Because Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate is classified as a PEG in some cases, it can carry with it the concerns associated with all PEGs. According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, PEGs (including Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate) can contain harmful impurities, including: Ethylene Oxide, known to increase the incidences of uterine and breast cancers and of leukemia and brain cancer, according to experimental results reported by the National Toxicology Program; 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen; PAHs, known to increase the risk of breast cancer; lead; iron; and arsenic (Source
Products and formulas containing Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate should not be used on broken or irritated skin. Although PEGs are considered safe for use topically on healthy skin, studies showed that patients suffering from severe burns were treated with PEG-based antimicrobial cream; this treatment resulted in kidney toxicity. "The PEG content of the antimicrobial cream was determined to be the causative agent. However, no evidence of systemic toxicity occurred in studies with intact skin. Because of the observation of kidney effects in burn patients, the CIR Expert Panel qualified their conclusion on the safety of the PEG ingredients to state that cosmetic formulations containing these ingredients should not be used on damaged skin" (CosmeticsInfo.org
Recommended Products w/ Polyoxyethylene Sorbitol Tetraoleate (listed as Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate):
Kose Seikisho Facial Cleansing Mousse