Peg 100 stearate is an emollient and emulsifier.



  • PEG 100 Stearate is included in skin care and beauty products for a variety of reasons, ranging from making the skin softer, to helping product formulations better keep their original consistency.
  • As an emollient, PEG 100 Stearate is included within skin care product formulations to give the skin a softer feel. It achieves this through strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier by forming a thin fatty layer on the skin’s surface, which prevents moisture loss and increases overall hydration. This moisturizing effect increases hydration of skin cells, which in turn makes the skin softer and boosts skin health.
  • Another use for PEG 100 Stearate has to do with its emulsification properties. Emulsifiers are valued in the skin care and personal care industries because of their ability to mix water and oils. Without this ability, the oils in many formulations would begin to separate from the water molecules, thus undermining product texture and consistency. Including ingredients like PEG 100 Stearate in creams and face washes can effectively address these concerns.
  • Lastly, PEG 100 Stearate can also act as a surfactant, when used in facial cleansers. Because of its ability to mix water and oil, the ingredient helps the skin surface oil (and dirt trapped inside the oil) better mix with the water, so that it is easier to wash away. Hence, it can be added to face washes and even shampoos.


  • PEG-100 Stearate is made by combining natural oils (oftentimes palm or coconut) with Stearic Acid to form a water-soluble ester. It can also be a synthetic polymer made by combining Oxirane (Ethylene Oxide) and fatty acids (source).
  • PEG-100 Stearate is primarily used by the cosmetics and beauty care industry as an emollient, an emulsifier and a moisturizer, although PEG Stearates in general are also known to clean the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away, according to
  • Unlike typical PEGs, (whose identifying number corresponds to their molecular weight) the numerical value of each PEG Stearate corresponds to the average number of ethylene oxide monomers in the polyethylene chain (from 2 – 150).


  • However. The Cosmetics Database found PEG 100 Stearate to be a moderate to high hazard ingredient depending on usage. The EWG issues warnings regarding: cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, contamination concerns, irritation, and organ system toxicity.
  • According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, PEGs (including PEG 100 Stearate) 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 PEG 100 Stearate 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” (


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