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Ceteareth-20 is the polyethylene glycol ether of cetearyl alcohol; may contain potentially toxic impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.

Function(s): Surfactant - Cleansing Agent; Surfactant - Solubilizing Agent

Other names: Peg-20 Cetostearyl Alcohol; Peg-20 Cetyl/Stearyl Ether; Polyethylene Glycol 1000 Cetyl/Stearyl Ether; Polyoxyethylene (20) Cetyl/Stearyl Ether

Source:  EWG

Source: EWG

Overall hazard:
Cancer concerns:
Developmental & reproductive toxicity: ○○○○○○○○○○○○ 
Allergies & immunotoxicity:
Use restrictions: 


Natural or synthetic?


What Is It?

Ceteareths (Ceteareth-2, Ceteareth-3, Ceteareth-4, Ceteareth-5, Ceteareth-6, Ceteareth-7, Ceteareth-8, Ceteareth-9, Ceteareth-10, Ceteareth-11, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-13, Ceteareth-14, Ceteareth-15, Ceteareth-16, Ceteareth-17, Ceteareth-18, Ceteareth-20, Ceteareth-22, Ceteareth-23, Ceteareth-24, Ceteareth-25, Ceteareth-27, Ceteareth-28, Ceteareth-29, Ceteareth-30, Ceteareth-33, Ceteareth-34, Ceteareth-40, Ceteareth-50, Ceteareth-55, Ceteareth-60, Ceteareth-80, Ceteareth-100) are liquids to waxy solids. In cosmetics and personal care products, Ceteareth ingredients are used in skin care products, moisturizers, hair conditioners, suntan and indoor tanning products and hair dyes, colors, and tints.

Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?

Ceteareth-2 to -18, and Ceteareth-22, help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified. Ceteareth-22 is also used to decrease the thickness of liquid cosmetics and personal care products. Ceteareth-20 to -40 help other ingredients to dissolve in a solvent in which they would not normally dissolve, and along with Ceteareths-50 to -100, clean the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that these substances can be rinsed away.

Safety Information: 

The safety of the Ceteareth ingredientss has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Ceteareth-2, -3, -4, -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, -12, -13, -14, -15, -16, -17, -18, -20, -22, -23, -24, -25, -27, -28, -29, -30, -33, -34, -40, -50, -55, -60, -80 and -100 were safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products. Ceteareth ingredients should not be used on damaged skin.

More safety Information: 

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel considered previous findings from the safety assessment of Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), several fatty alcohols (Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, and Stearyl Alcohol), and Steareths to supplement the data on the Ceteareth ingredients. These data indicated little evidence of toxicity. Data on the PEG ingredients indicated that when used on burn patients, PEGs may result in kidney effects. Therefore, the CIR Expert Panel also concluded that the Ceteareth ingredients should not be used on damaged skin.

Ceteareth-15 (10% in formulation) was minimally irritating after a single dermal exposure. In clinical studies, Ceteareth-15 (1.5% in formulation) produced minimal irritation when tested in both 4- and 21-day patch tests, and was not a sensitizer when tested (1.35% in formulation) in a repeat-insult patch test. Small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a by-product of ethoxylation, may be found in the Ceteareth ingredients. The potential presence of this material is well known and can be controlled through purification steps to remove it from the ingredients before blending into cosmetic formulations.

What the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is doing to assure that cosmetics do not contain unsafe levels of 1,4-dioxane.

The Ceteareth ingredients may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.


CNoéma Editor