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PEG 100 Stearate

Derived from natural oils (usually palm/coconut oils) with stearic acid. Emollient. Emulsifier (help water mix with oil) to avoid product separating in container.

PEGs are everywhere – in our skin care and in our medical care – and most of us don’t even know what they are. We want to clear up some of the confusion about PEGs and help you understand what they are, what they do, and why we use them in our skin care products.

 PEGs are polymers of the same molecule, meaning that many of the same molecules are bonded together (like a string of beads with all the beads strung together). PEGs are almost always written with a number after their name such as PEG 2, PEG 40, PEG 100, PEG 150, PEG 3350, PEG 6000: the number is the approximate molecular weight of that particular PEG. So PEG 40 is a lot smaller than PEG 3350. There are many, many different PEGs, and size matters. Each of the PEGs listed above are different sizes and different weights; they therefore have very different functions. PEG 3350 is actually used as a drug to treat constipation (called MiraLax®) whereas PEG 4 is used as a skin moisturizer.

Cosmetics mostly use smaller PEGs, such as PEG 100 or PEG 150. Often the polyethylene glycol is connected to another molecule, such as stearic acid (remember stearic acid is a natural fatty acid, usually from vegetable oil). So PEG 100 stearate means that the polyethylene glycol with an approximate molecular weight of 100 is attached chemically to stearic acid. If you look at ingredient labels or at the medical literature, you will see numerous different size PEGs attached to many different molecules (like stearic acid or castor oil). Source:

At Baby Pibu™ the safety, efficacy, and integrity of our products matter most. We choose high-quality ingredients that are both safe and effective. Creating a natural skin care formula can be tricky. We cannot simply put all the ingredients together and hope that a suitable product forms as a result. Formulating and producing a product that is the right texture (you don’t want a super watery cream, or one that the oil and water separate in the jar), stable over time (you want your cream to be cream every time you open it- no mold, bacteria, etc.), and effective (to hydrate your baby’s skin) is a multi-step, tightly controlled process that requires a variety of different ingredients with different functions. PEGs, such as PEG 100 stearate functions as an emollient and emulsifier. Emulsifiers are especially important to help the water-based and oil-based ingredients mix properly. Emollients also help soften, lubricate,  and form a protective barrier on the skin. These essential emollients and emulsifiers ensure that your favorite product stays just the way you like it!

Are PEGs in my skin care safe?

Of course. We would not use them if they weren’t safe. The PEGs that are used in skin care products have been around for a long time and have been studied for years. Their safety has been well-documented for use in topical products (Fruijtier-Pöllot, 2005) despite what you see on some non-credible websites. If you want a product that is 100% natural the only choice you have is to make it yourself and keep it in the refrigerator.  If you choose one that is 100% natural off the shelf0 be weary. It is either NOT 100% natural, or it was produced in someone’s kitchen or bathroom and lacks the clinical testing and stability necessary for a safe skincare product. At Baby Pibu™ the safety of our products is our utmost concern. We continually review the scientific literature to ensure we are aware of any new studies that suggest an ingredient may be harmful, and we will never use ingredients that science has shown to be even potentially harmful. At any time, if we find better, safer ingredients that could be used in our products, we will make the switch, as your safety and the effectiveness of our products is of the highest priority.

Are PEGs antifreeze?

No, PEGs are not antifreeze. Antifreeze is primarily made of ethylene glycol, not polyethylene glycol. Any confusion may arise because the two are chemically related (as you can see by their similar names), but they have very, very different chemical properties and functions. Ethylene glycol, a much smaller molecule than most of the PEGs, is very toxic and can be extremely dangerous if ingested. Drinking ethylene glycol affects a variety of organ systems in the body and can cause serious illness or death. PEGs are not dangerous whereas ethylene glycol is extremely dangerous.

Other applications of PEGs

PEGs are used in a variety of medical and healthcare applications, in addition to skin care products. They are often used in pharmaceutical formulations, and as mentioned above, some PEGs are used as drugs (PEG 3350 is used to successfully treat constipation). PEGs are finding new applications in surgeries and medical research; some studies are even investigating the ability of PEGs to treat colon cancer.

Remember, the many, many types of polyethylene glycol have many functions: PEGs play important roles in a variety of medical applications and are important skin care ingredients. They help us produce safe, stable and effective products.

Want to know more?

Credible resources:

Medical journal: Fruijtier-Pölloth, C. “Safety assessment on polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and their derivatives as used in cosmetic products.” Toxicology 214 (2005) 1-38.