Steareth 21 is a polyethylene glycol ether made from stearic acid. It is used as an emulsifier in cosmetics and personal care products, including makeup, lotions, personal cleanliness products and deodorants, as well as suntan, fragrance, skin, eye and hair care products. The Steareths are “prepared by reacting ethylene oxide with stearyl alcohol where the numerical value in the name corresponds to the average number of units of ethylene oxide. Therefore, Steareth 21 is prepared using an average of 21 units of ethylene oxide reacted with stearyl alcohol, and is relatively liquid compared to higher Steareth values, which become waxy solids.
Steareth 21 is FDA and CIR approved.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
Steareth 21 is considered a low hazard ingredient by the Cosmetics Database. There are some concerns regarding the contamination of Steareth 21 with small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a by-product of ethoxylation and a known toxin. However, this contamination can be controlled through purification and is not considered a likely hazard in cosmetics or personal care products.
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