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Polyethylene

* A versatile ingredient seen as an emulsion stabilizer, viscosity increasing agent, and binding agent * Also known as Polythene (primarily in UK products) * Please read TIA's post on What Is It: PEGs

Polytheylene is a polymer, or plastic, used in a variety of skin care and beauty products, including as eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, eyebrow pencils, lipstick, blushers, face powders and foundations, as well as in skin cleansers and skin care products, because of its versatile properties as an abrasive ingredient, adhesive, binder, bulking agent, emulsion stabilizer, film former, oral care agent and as a viscosity increasing agent, according to CosmeticsInfo.org. Polytheylene is also a main component of Polyethylene Glycols, or PEGs.

* A versatile ingredient seen as an emulsion stabilizer, viscosity increasing agent, and binding agent

* Also known as Polythene (primarily in UK products)

* Please read TIA's post on What Is It: PEGs

Functions:

Polytheylene is a polymer, or plastic, used in a variety of skin care and beauty products, including as eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, eyebrow pencils, lipstick, blushers, face powders and foundations, as well as in skin cleansers and skin care products, because of its versatile properties as an abrasive ingredient, adhesive, binder, bulking agent, emulsion stabilizer, film former, oral care agent and as a viscosity increasing agent, according to CosmeticsInfo.org. Polytheylene is also a main component of Polyethylene Glycols, or PEGs.

One of its most popular uses in skin care products is as an ingredient in exfoliators, in which small beads made of Polyethylene are used for smoothing or polishing the skin. Polyethylene is often seen in formulas because of its ability to bond other ingredients together, such as in make up foundations and compressed powder cakes. It can also be used to dilute solids, increase the thickness of formulas, or help keep emulsions from separating into oil and water components. It dries to form a thin coating on the skin, hair or nails, and is also seen as a toothpaste ingredient because of its ability to polish the teeth thanks to its exfoliating properties.

The FDA has approved Polyethylene for use in chewing gum bases, "provided its molecular weight is between 2,000 and 21,000," according to CosmeticsInfo.org. The FDA also includes Polyethylene and modified Polyethylenes on the list of permitted indirect food additives.

Safety Measures/Side Effects:

Polyethylene is considered a low hazard ingredient by the Cosmetics Database, for cancer. But a moderate hazard as regards skin irritation. There is moderate evidence that Polyethylene is an immune system toxicant as well, according to the National Library of Medicine's study entitled "Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Agents."

Polyethylene is also considered a potential carcinogenic that has shown tumor formation at moderate doses when given to animals, and blood tumor formation and tumors at the site of application, although many of these findings resulted from Polyethylene being directly implanted into the body.

Products and formulas containing Polyethylene should not be used on broken or irritated skin. The contamination concerns regarding the use of Polyethylene in cosmetics and skin care formulas is somewhat countered by the CIR's finding that the large molecules in Polyethylene are unable to penetrate skin, and therefore do not enter the body. Studies specifically focusing on PEGs, in which Polyethylene (combined with Glycol) is a primarily component, show that 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/ Polyethylene:

Avon Magix Face Perfector, Moltobene Clay Esthe Pack, Estee Lauder Time Zone Link Wrinkle Reducing Lotion SPF 15, Korres Lip Butter, Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash
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