Toxic Timeout Ingredient Focus: Ceteareth-20
WHAT IS IT? Ceteareth-20 is a penetration enhancer which alters the skin structure, allowing substances to penetrate deeper into the skin. Made from Cetearyl Alcohol (a mixture of cetyl and stearyl alcohol and ethylene oxide), this chemical ingredient is commonly found in a number of skin care products, moisturizers, hair conditioners, suntan and indoor tanning products and hair dyes, colors and tints.

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 have shown that this chemical ingredient is potentially contaminated with Ethylene Oxide and I,4-dioxane – two known cancer causing substances. According to the EWC Cosmetics Database:

“The carcinogen 1,4-dioxane contaminates up to 46% of personal care products tested (OCA 2008, EWG 2008). The chemical is an unwanted byproduct of an ingredient processing method called ethoxylation used to reduce the risk of skin irritation for petroleum-based ingredients. Though 1,4-dioxane can easily be removed from products before they are sold, its widespread presence in products indicates that many manufacturers fail to take this simple step.”

Being a penetration enhancer, Ceteareth-20 works to speed the passage of these chemicals directly into your bloodstream.
Much more research needs to be conducted on this ingredient before we start applying it onto our faces, into our hair and introducing it into our bloodstream. Avoid this chemical when purchasing your beauty products.

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  1. my teenage daughter uses peach face honey bee moisturiser and I was wondering if that is safe to use? it contains ceteareth-20, cetearyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum. I bought it because itc contains lots of natural oils but now Im not sure.it also comes from Austraila.
    thanks susan

    susan | 02.09.2013 | Reply
    • Well I am allergic to ceteareth 20 as a fact and I know I can’t use a number of things but I would say it could be okay but if like me when she puts it on and she gets itchy , a rash shows or she goes all red around where she put it then she is allergic

      If allergic always read label of ingredients on back

      Holly | 02.11.2013 | Reply
  2. My cream contains Cateareth 20 but you said has no side effects that it only enhance the absorbtion of accompanning ingriedients & the accompanning ingriedients that follow the cream i use i think its safe bcos its full of natural ingredients but i may be naive..Pls help me verify the cream am using its called NATURESSENCE,swiss collagen body cream its made in America..Pls i’ll wait for your reply via Email..Thanks & God bless you..(AMEN)…

    Shina Samuel | 08.18.2013 | Reply
  3. Here is a good article about penetration enhancers with links to more info. Because something is a penetration enhancer doesn’t mean it goes to your bloodstream. It depends on a lot of things. Mostly it just gets moisturizers and such below the dead stratum corneum to the layers of skin right below it. http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-heck-is-penetration-enhancer.html

    Melanie | 10.17.2014 | Reply
  4. Alarmist junk science is alive and well!

    justaluvcosmetics | 03.01.2016 | Reply
  5. You’re a complete moron. Yet another mommy blogger who is not a cosmetic chemist or a formulator and takes the word of EWG without any intelligent background. EWG has been discredited time and time again. Who are these people running it anyway? More mommy bloggers? There are a lot of toxic ingredients out there that I avoid, but this mommy blogger uneducated frenzy is gross.

    Tara | 12.17.2016 | Reply
    • WOW….are you really that stupid or just plain ignorant of how our society is replete with chemicals-most of which are classified as carcinogenic. Wake up and smell the toxins B.

      April Harris | 03.13.2018 | Reply


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