Thickeners/Emulsifiers , Emollients , Scrub Agents
A form of plastic (synthetic polymer) that has numerous functions in cosmetic products. Rounded polyethylene beads serve as an abrasive agent in many facial scrubs. Also used as a stabilizer, binding agent, thickener, and film-forming agent. No known toxicity for skin. Despite what you may have read on the Internet, polyethylene as used in cosmetics does not destroy marine life or remain in the environment for thousands of years. According to a report in the April 2010 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine, "Despite this speculation on the subject, no technical data exists to support these statements and in many cases, these myths are generated by companies distributing natural ingredients and products." It may interest you to know that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) classifies polyethylene as an inherently biodegradable material. The group also mentions that "the volume of these microspheres used in cosmetics and personal care is small and most of the particles are expected to be removed during sewage treatment." (Additional source: http://www.lw-online.de/fileadmin/downloads/service_fachbeitraege/Poster_02.pdf.)

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