What is it?
Laureth-4 and Laureth-23 are polyoxyethers of lauryl alcohol. They are a clear, colorless liquids. In cosmetics and personal care products, Laureth-4 and Laureth-23 are used in the formulation of a variety of bath, eye, facial, hair, cleansing and sunscreen products. They are also used in cuticle softeners, deodorants and moisturizing products.
The safety of Laureth-4, and Laureth-23, has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Laureth-4 and Laureth-23 were safe as cosmetic ingredients in the present practices of use and concentration. In 2003, as part of the scheduled re-evaluation of ingredients, the CIR Expert Panel considered available new data on Laureth-4 and Laureth-23 and reaffirmed the above conclusion.
Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?
Laureth-4 and Laureth-23 both function as surfactants. Laureth-4 functions as a surfatant - emulsfying agent, while Laureth-23 functions as a surfactant - cleansing agent and a surfactant - solubilizing agent.
Laureth-4 and Laureth-23 are produced by reacting ethylene oxide with lauryl alcohol. The numerical designation refers to the average number of repeating ethylene oxide units in the molecule. As the numerical value of Laureths increases, the viscosity of the ingredient increases until they become white, waxy solids.