Substance information

"PEG" refers to a PEG-(polyethylene glycol-) derivative. The number behind "PEG-" (or the first number behind "PEG/...-") refers to the average number of molecular units -CH2-CH2-O-. Ingredient on the basis of poly(di)methyl siloxane ("dimethicone"). Ingredient on the basis of beeswax (lat. cera alba).

Function(s) of this ingredient in cosmetic products


Leaves the hair easy to comb, supple, soft and shiny and / or imparts volume


Maintains the skin in good condition



Background information on use in cosmetics

Solid PEG serve as consistency enhancers in lipsticks and creams as well as humectants. They are well tolerated by the skin and are not microbiologically sensitive, so that in general it is not necessary to add any preservatives. Polyethylene glycols (INCI: PEG-...) are poly condensation products of ethylene glycol, or polymerisation products of ethylene oxide. The number added to the name refers to the mean number of ethylene oxide units in the substance. The consistency of the PEG derivatives is increasingly solid with a growing degree of polymerisation. PEGs with a mean molar mass of up to 600 g/mol are liquid, up to 1,000 g/mol wax-like and from 4,000 g/mol solid wax-like substances. By mixing solid and liquid components, products of a creamy consistency are obtained which are used as water-free and water rinse-off bases. With growing molar mass water solubility and hygroscopicity (ability to absorb moisture) of the polyethylene glycols decrease. Polyethylene glycols and their derivates are preferentially used in cosmetic products since they have a broad spectrum of viscosity and solubility properties and have a very good skin tolerance. As water soluble, non-greasy substances polyethylene glycols are suitable for many cosmetic purposes. The liquid PEGs serve, eg, as glycerol substitute in facial, shaving and hair lotions, as solubilisers and solvents. Silicones, chemically more precisely poly(organo)siloxanes, is a designation for a group of synthetic polymers in which silicone atoms are connected through oxygen atoms. The volatility and viscosity are determined by the chain length. The silicones include various compounds which contain as a characteristic functional group a polyorganosiloxane. Important classes are: dimethylpolysiloxanes, phenylmethyl polysiloxanes, cyclic methylsiloxanes and siloxanes modified with alkyl groups or PEG (polyethylene glycol). Silicones are water insoluble and have a low surface tension. The low surface tension is the reason for their good spreading quality; they constitute protective films on the skin which are vapor-permeable. They have no comedogenic effect and are particularly well tolerated on skin. Because of their favourable technological and cosmetic properties they are used rather frequently in cosmetics and serve for the improvement of care properties in skin and haircare products.

Information on safe use

Claudia Fruijtier-Pölloth: Safety assessment on polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and their derivatives as used in cosmetic products. In: "Toxicology" (2005), No. 214, P. 1-38. Publisher: Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Belongs to the following substance groups

Regulating cosmetics

Cosmetics Ingredients are subject to regulation. Please note, different regulations may apply to cosmetic ingredients outside the EU.

Understanding your cosmetics

How are cosmetics kept safe in Europe?

Strict laws make sure that cosmetics and personal care products sold in the European Union are safe for people to use. Companies, national and European regulatory authorities share the responsibility of keeping cosmetic products safe.

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What should I know about endocrine disruptors?

Some ingredients used in cosmetic products have been claimed to be ‘endocrine disruptors’ because they have the potential to mimic some of the properties of our hormones. Just because something has the potential to mimic a hormone does not mean it will disrupt our endocrine system. Many substances, including natural ones, mimic hormones but very few, and these are mostly potent medicines, have ever been shown to cause disruption of the endocrine system. The rigorous product safety assessments by qualified, scientific experts that companies are legally obliged to carry out cover all potential risks, including potential endocrine disruption.

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Are cosmetics tested on animals? No!

In the European Union, testing cosmetics on animals has been fully banned since 2013. Over the last 30 years, long before a ban was in place, the cosmetics and personal care industry has invested in research and development to pioneer alternatives to animal testing tools to assess the safety of cosmetics ingredients and products.

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What about allergens in cosmetics?

Many substances, natural or man-made, have the potential to cause an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to substances that are harmless to most people. A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an allergen. Cosmetics and personal care products may contain ingredients that can be allergenic for some people. This does not mean that the product is not safe for others to use.

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