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Ethoxyated tensio-active

The Gravier laboratory with whom we have been working for many years, by ethics, and concerned with having the most "natural" products possible, has decided of delete ethylene tensio-actives of all its maintenance products, ethoxylés no longer exist in the cosmetic range.

Ethoxy compounds are not, a priori, dangerous. It is rather their manufacturing process that is being questioned. Indeed, they are made from a very reactive gas, extrically toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic, ethylene oxide.
The chemical reaction of ethoxylation is not soft. It puts into play extreme temperatures and pressures and is therefore excluded from manufacturing processes authorized by certain organic cosmetic labels.
After purification, there is normally no trace of this intermediate substance in the finished product. However, it could be contaminated with dioxane (1.4-dioxane), which is an irritating substance, suspected of being carcinogenic (group 2B carcinogen possible for man), and derived from ethylene oxide. On the other hand, They're not very biodegradable.

There are many epoxy ingredients.
The best known are those whose name includes the term PEG (PolyEthyleneGlycol) but also all ingredients whose name contains the enough "-eth" like Arachideth, Beheneth, Buteth, Ceteareth, Cetheth, Coceth, Laneth, Laureth, Myreth, Oleth, Pareth, Talloweth, etc... suffix "-oxynol" (butoxynol, octoxynol, nonoxynol) or "hydroxyethyl-" prefix (Hydroxyethylcellulose). add Polysorbates, Quaterniums, Polysilicones and Copolyols to this list.

One of the most well-known members of the family of ethylene ingredients is the Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), the ethoxy version of the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), much more aggressive for the skin.
In fact, ethoxylation consists of inserting patterns -(CH2-CH2-O)- into a carbonated chain, generally in large numbers, which makes the molecule larger: in the end it will have much more difficulty entering the skin but these molecules are much less biodegradable.

The replacement of these tensio-actives ethoxyated by other more "natural" can cause problems of "hardening" of products at temperatures below 17°c, (a bit like some vegetable oils that freeze at low temperatures), just shake the bottle strongly and put it back to heat so that the product regains its liquid appearance.


Ethylene oxide

  • Uses
    Ethylene oxide is used in the following activities: primarily as a raw material in the chemical industry for the preparation of various compounds (ethylene glycol and derived polymers, glycol ethers, tensioactive, ethanolamines, acrylonitrile).

  • Physical properties
    Ethylene oxide is soluble in all proportions with water, ethanol, ethers and most organic solvents.

  • Chemical properties
    With water, the product forms hydrates that precipitate below 12 °C and can dangerously obstruct the pipes.

  • Fire hazards
    Ethylene oxide is an extremely flammable gas (or liquid below 10 °C) that can be decomposed explosively and form explosive mixtures with air within 3 to 100% by volume.

  • Toxicokinetics - Metabolism
    Ethylene oxide is absorbed by inhalation and ingestion, widely distributed in the body, processed by hydrolysis or conjugation and eliminated mainly in urine. In the blood, it forms additives with hemoglobin, which can be used as a biological exposure indicator.

  • Texperimental oxygen
    Ethylene oxide is toxic by inhalation for respiratory and nervous systems and irritating for respiratory tract, skin and eyes.

  • Subchronic and Chronic
    Repeated exposures to ethylene oxide induce, at high concentrations, lesions of the tractus. At lower concentrations, irritation of this tract is reported.

  • Genetoxicity
    Ethylene oxide is mutagenic in vitro and in vivo; it is classified mutagene category 2, R 46 by the European Union.

  • Cancerogenese
    Ethylene oxide is oral carcinogenic in rat and inhalatory in mice; it is classified carcinogen category 2, R 45 by the European Union. In 1994, CIRC (IARC) classified carcinogenic ethylene oxide for man (group 1).

  • Effects on reproduction
    Ethylene oxide is toxic to male fertility. It is embryo- and fetotoxic at toxic concentrations for mothers.

The information about Ethylene oxide is extracted from an INRS document (Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité) which you will find on this file the whole oxide-ethylene.pdf or directly on the INRS site