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* An emulsifier and surfactant
Oleth-10 is one of many Oleths, an ingredient comprised of the polyethylene glycol ethers of oleyl alcohol in which the number in the name is the average number of ethylene oxide units (Source). Oleth-10, and all of the Oleth ingredients, are versatile compounds used to clean skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away. They also help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of formulas and help ingredients to dissolve in liquids in which they would not normally dissolve.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
There are many concerns regarding the use of Oleth-10, although it is approved by the CIR for use in cosmetics. The EWG rates it 76% safe and notes a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology in 1999 in which animal studies showed organ effects even at low doses.
According to CosmeticsInfo.org, Oleth-10 is a mild to moderate skin irritant and that Oleth ingredients may increase the penetration of other ingredients. They also carry the risk of the presence of the known toxin, 1,4-dioxane, a by-product of ethoxylation; however, this can be controlled through careful monitoring. There have been studies that show Oleth-10 to be potentially contaminated with impurities linked to cancer or a potential breast carcinogen, although these could not be scientifically confirmed (Source).
Recommended Products w/ Oleth-10:
Murad’s Oil Free SPF 15 Sunblock with Sheer Tint, Long Hair Lovers Rare Hair Oil, BioElements Power Peptide