In today's world, where consumers are more informed and cautious about the ingredients in the products they use, understanding chemical processes and compounds is crucial. It’s important to consider science and believe it or not there is so much chemistry involved in the beauty world! Have you wondered why people avoid PEGS or have you heard already about "ethoxylation" and the byproduct "1,4-dioxane?" While these terms might sound complex, gaining a basic understanding of them can help you make better choices for your health and the environment.



Ethoxylation is a chemical reaction where ethylene oxide adds to a substrate (commonly reacting with amine, alcohol, phenol, acid, oil) to increase solubility properties into water. The use of these materials called “ethoxylates” helps combine 2 items that don’t normally live in harmony- water and oil. Fragrance products in liquid water room sprays are a great example of oil (fragrance) needing to be solubilized into the water spray base for a stable product that lives in a bottle but doesn’t separate. Ethoxylated compounds can also improve the dirt and grease removal for better cleaning properties. Because it is a chemical process that can’t be a 100% efficient reaction, there are by products and one that causes concern is 1,4-dioxane.

However, this process usually forms a secondary compound byproduct known as “1,4-dioxane,” which at high and long-term exposures can cause irritations and be toxic to humans and environment.



Recent New York Legislation concerning 1,4-dioxane has brought this harmful chemical into the spotlight. Amendments were made to Articles 35 and 37 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) to regulate the amount of 1,4-dioxane that can be present in household cleaning, cosmetic, and personal care products. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, “the law establishes a maximum allowable concentration of 2 ppm (parts per million) of 1,4 dioxane on December 31, 2022, and 1 ppm on December 31, 2023, for household cleansing and personal care products. The law also establishes maximum allowable concentration of 10 ppm of 1,4 dioxane on December 31, 2022, for cosmetics.”

Now are you wondering which products specifically contain 1,4-dioxane or how you can spot it in your products?

It’s big business to make products as cheaply and in mass production as possible for big companies. Ethoxylates are cost effective, are a easily made synthetic process from ethylene oxide… which shocker (not to us!) is a petroleum derived ingredient. There is a very popular “no more tears" head to toe baby wash from a company that sounds a little like K&K, that marketed their product as gentle enough for babies. It was later discovered it contained a high load of polysorbate which numbs the baby’s eyes when in reality it is not gentle. By using high levels of Polysorbate ethoxylates it would prevent the human eye from feeling any pain which transalted to the mega corp as a great marketing line of "no more tears." These formulas were found to have an unusually high load of 1,4 dioxane and higher than allowable levels of formaldehyde so the product lawsuit pressured a reformulation to adhere to standards as well as appease customer demands .


It has been studied that long-term exposure to contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane can increase the risk of breast and other cancers (Yikes!). Groups such as the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulations (ICCR) and European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), have examined this issue and concluded that “1,4-dioxane amounts in cosmetic products are considered safe for consumers at trace levels of ≤10 ppm.” Although the FDA has not conducted a risk assessment itself, it periodically monitors the trace levels of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetic products and notes that it has significantly declined within the last 50 years.


Not only are they harmful to individuals, but also to the environment. 1,4-dioxane is highly soluble in water but doesn’t degrade easily, leading to potential contamination of water supplies and harm to aquatic life. The State of New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office reports that companies such as Dow Chemical Company (Dow), Ferro Corporation (Ferro), and Vulcan Materials Company (Vulcan), were recently sued for having “knowingly and willfully manufactured, promoted, and/or sold products containing 1,4-dioxane in New Jersey despite knowing that the chemical was harmful and would inevitably reach surface water and groundwater in substantial quantities, significantly pollute drinking water supplies, render drinking water unusable and unsafe, and threaten the public health and welfare” in the state of New Jersey. In other words, the opposite of environmentally conscious.



There are some great indicators when trying to avoid ethoxylated materials since it is not a visible item in your products. We compiled this helpful list of common ingredients to avoid.

1.Ethoxylated Alcohols: It’s a major class of cleaner called non-ionic surfactants

  • Laureth-7: Commonly used in shampoos, conditioners, and body washes as a surfactant and emulsifier.
  • Ceteareth-20: Frequently found in skin creams, lotions, and hair care products as an emulsifying agent.
  • Steareth-2: Used in deodorants, creams, and lotions to help blend oil and water.
  • Ceteth-20: Often included in creams, lotions, and other personal care products for its emulsifying properties.
  • Oleth-10: Found in various skincare and hair care products as a surfactant and emulsifier.
  • Laureth-4: Used in hair and skin care products as an emulsifier and surfactant.
  • Ceteareth-12: Found in lotions, creams, and hair care products, acting as an emulsifier and stabilizer.
  • Steareth-10: Commonly included in skin creams, lotions, and deodorants for its emulsifying properties.
  • Oleth-20: Used in various personal care products like creams and shampoos as a surfactant and emulsifier.
  • Steareth-21: Often found in creams, lotions, and other personal care products, serving as an emulsifier and stabilizer.

 2.Ethoxylated Nonylphenols: This one seems obvious…

  • Nonoxynol-9: Found in spermicidal lubricants and industrial cleaners.
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate: Common in industrial cleaning agents.

3.Ethoxylated Fatty Acids (PEG aka polyethylene glycol hyphen number with natural oil)

  • PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil: Used in cosmetics and personal care products.
  • PEG-100 Stearate: Found in moisturizers and creams.

4.Ethoxylated Sorbitan Esters (Polysorbates of all numbers)

  • Polysorbate 20: Common in food products, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Polysorbate 80: Used in ice cream, lotions, and vaccines.

5.Polyethylene Glycol (PEG is the acronym)

  • PEG-8: Found in various personal care products, including moisturizers and hair products.
  • PEG-400: Used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
  • PEG-3350: Commonly found in laxatives.

5.Ethoxylated sulfates (sulfates modified for increased solubility) all commonly found on hair and skin cleansing systems or household cleaners.

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Myreth Sulfate
  • Ammonium Myreth Sulfate




Our jelly serum technology being waterless, and the ingredients being vetted for natural origin (no petroleum derived ingredients here!) also means no need to solubilize oils into water. We avoid all use of ethoxylated materials and other concerning petrol technologies this way. We also certify through our raw material suppliers their products are free of 1,4 dioxane and are not known to be manufactured using any ethoxylation processes.


LUCID being a mild cleansing powder we do not need to solubilize water into oil or use technologies of EO (ethylene oxide) origin. Our main system cleaning agent is called sodium methyl cocyl taurate and it is a biodegradable coconut derived surfactant meant to gently cleanse without skin irritancy or stripping. Check out our cool ingredients in detail HERE and even deeper information on the uses and uniqueness of the product in our blog


Understanding the link between ethoxylates and 1,4-dioxane, and recognizing the potential health and environmental impacts, can empower you to make safer choices. Stay informed by reading labels, choosing natural alternatives, and supporting brands committed to transparency and safety. This knowledge not only benefits your well-being but also contributes to a healthier environment. Does this sound familiar…? As we say, One planet, One face. Love Both.


Great Additional Reads

“1,4-Dioxane in Cosmetics: A Manufacturing Byproduct” by the FDA

“No More Tears - No More Formaldehyde in J&J Baby Shampoo” by Searcy Law

“Ethoxylated Ingredients” by safe cosmetics

 “1,4-Dioxane Limits for Household Cleansing, Personal Care, and Cosmetic Products” by

 “AG Platkin, NJDEP, and Division of Consumer Affairs Announce 1,4-Dioxane Contamination Lawsuit” 

Collab: Sophia Gutierrez