In my continuing series “What is XYZ and Why Should You Avoid It?“, this time I want to look at Polyethylene, a plastic with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons. Yes, it’s a kind of plastic that mostly ends up in landfills and takes several centuries to degrade, but it is also used in some skincare products as an abrasive, adhesive, binder, bulking agent, and emulsion stabilizer. According to the Skin Deep guide, Polyethylene is classified as being a moderate to high hazard depending on product usage. Definitely not something you want to be using on or around your body, right? After all, the ingredient has been linked to cancer, allergies/immunotoxicity, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), skin irritation, neurotoxicity, and biochemical or cellular level changes. Sure sounds safe to me. And while it can be called or labeled “Polyethylene” on packaging, it may also go by the names of Ethene, Homopolymer, Polyethylene Powder, or Polyethylene Wax – so be sure to check those ingredient lists carefully before you purchase skin care products.
So what products on the market today have Polyethylene in them as an ingredient? You may be surprised. According to the Skin Deep guide, here are a few common skin care products that contain Polyethylene:
Revlon & Almay Mascaras
Peter Thomas Roth Acne Scrub
Yardley Shower Scrub
Avon Dual Desire Lip Gloss
Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Liner
Lab Series Skincare for Men Clean
Revlon Age-Defying Translucent Finishing Powder
Almay Time-Off Age Smoothing Pressed Powder
Those are certainly some familiar names, right? If you are using products at home that may have Polyethylene in them, you may want to consider searching for alternatives. After all, with the environmental impact of plastics, is wearing these mascaras and foundation worthy of the possibility of getting cancer? I didn’t think so – so be sure to do your homework on the products you use!