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Chemical of the Week: Ceteareth-20 (Sea-tear-eth)

Chemical of the Week: Ceteareth-20 (Sea-tear-eth)


What is Ceteareth?

Ceteareth is a nonionic surfactant made from Cetearyl Alcohol which is a mixture of cetyl, stearyl alcohol and ethylene oxide.

Ceteareth is known as a thickening solution and a penetration enhancer which alters the structure of the skin, allowing substances to penetrate deeper into the layers of skin. It's penetration enhancements allow Ceteareth-20 to speed the passage of chemicals directly into the bloodstream.


What products can you find this in?

This chemical is commonly found in a variety of skin care products such as, facial moisturizers, anti-aging serums and creams, lotions such as the popular brand "dermatologist developed" Lubriderm, conditioners, cleansers, acne treatment, exfoliants/scrubs, sun tan, indoor tanning products, hair dyes, colors and tints.


What is the health risk?

Ceteareth-20 is considered a moderate to severe health hazard by cosmetics researchers and is restricted for use in cosmetics. It is highly unsafe to use on irritation or damaged skin.


Studies show that Ceteareth is potentially contaminated with Ethylene Oxide and I,4-dioxane which are two known cancer causing substances. The carcinogen and byproduct I,4-dioxane, contaminates 46% of skin care products. It's considered a toxic allergen that enhances the skins absorption to numerous harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends customers stay away from this harmful chemical.



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