Vegetable Emulsifying Wax NF
EWG Risk Score:
But read on to find out why it's really a "7" in my opinion!
Why it's a risk:
The problem with Emulsifying Wax is that it's not just one chemical, but a cocktail of many. And these chemicals aren't required to be disclosed to the crafter or the end consumer. But I was able to track down the actual ingredients its made up of. It is typically a blend of:
- Cetearyl Alcohol
- Polysorbate 60
- PEG-150 Stearate
Let's look at these chemicals one by one.
Cetearyl Alcohol scores a 0 risk on EWG however...if you look closely at the ingredient you'll notice that cetearyl alcohol is basically a blend of cetyl and steareth alcohol, both of which score 1 risk scores in the database for skin irritation and tumor formation at high doeses. That said, I'm not terribly concerned with cetearyl alcohol, however it's not a truly natural or organic ingredient. Years ago when I was doing my first stages of reaserch, I worked with it a little bit. It stinks to high heaven when heated (and you have to heat it to use it in a lotion.) It gave me an asthma attack and I had to stop working with it.
At high doses, polysorbate 60 can cause reproductive disorders and tumor formation. It scores a 1 risk score on EWG, and it's not a huge conern at small doses. However, it's not a truly natural or organic ingredient either.
Now is when it gets messy.
In my last post I talked about steareth-20 and how it can be laced with 1,4-dioxane. Read all about it here.
PEG-150 Stearate also poses the same carcinogenic contamination concerns (as it's a polyethylene glycol) and finally EWG recognizes it. PEG-150 Stearate scores a 4-7 risk score in EWG, citing cancer risk, contamination concerns (ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane), endocrine disruption, developmental/reproductive toxicity, and skin irritation.
A lot of the above products score "0" risk scores in EWG, so it's probably a shock to find out that they could be laced with trace amounts of carcinogens from the PEG components of the emulsifying wax. Many home crafters and small companies like these use emulsifying wax because of its ease of use, affordability, and wide availability. It's a pretty failsafe way to create a lotion that combines water and oil. But, because chemical manufacturers don't disclose the actual ingredients, the companies are usually in the dark about the ingredient. Small crafters probably go to the cosmetics database, look it up, see the 0 risk and trust the database. However, you have to dig deeper to really get a true picture of the natural-sounding vegetable emulsifying wax. If the companies using emulsifying wax were to disclose the actual ingredients of the wax on their labels, their risk scores would no longer be "0" but much higher. Disappointing, I know.
I think you are confusing emulsifying wax nf with emulsifying wax. "Emulsifying wax NF" is just Cetearyl Alcohol blended with Polysorbate 60. The emulsifying wax that fnwl sells is not nf, it is "nf quality." There are many different combinations of ingredients that can be referred to as emulsifying wax, but there is only one ewax nf. The formula is a standard, and does not vary. So please don't confuse consumers any more than they already are. Emuslfiying wax NF is just a blend of two ingredients - cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60. Emusifying wax without the NF can be any waxy blend that emulsifies.
The information out there about emulsifying wax is so scant that I hadn't realized there was a difference between the non NF and the NF version. I did look it up in the national formulary, and indeed, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax NF is " is "a waxy solid prepared from Cetostearyl Alcohol containing a polyoxyethylene derivative of a fatty acid ester of sorbitan." In other words, cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60, just like she's saying. So thanks Betty for bringing this to my attention.
HOWEVER, I've researched this further and just because it's NF doesn't make it any safer. Polysorbate 60 had fallen through the cracks in my initial analysis as an okay ingredient. But upon further research, I realize polysorbate too is an ethoxylated compound. Polysorbates are derived from PEGs, meaning that at some point they've been treated with exylene oxide, a known carcinogen.
So, the bottom line is, no matter if it's Vegetable Emulsifying Wax, or Vegetable Emulsifying Wax NF, or Vegetable Emulsifier, whatever they list it as, it's still a blend of one or more chemicals that have been synthesized with ethylene oxide. Betty's comment actually drives my point home: the real problem with Vegetable Emulsifying Wax (NF or not) is that you don't really know what you're using, because the actual ingredients aren't listed.