Polyethylene is a synthetic polymer whose many uses in cosmetics depend on whether it is used in solid, wax, or liquid forms. In solid form it can be an abrasive; wax and liquid forms serve as binding or thickening agents and film-formers.

References for this information:

International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 26, January 2007, pages 115–127
Dermatitis, September-October 2010, pages 255–261

Back to Ingredient Dictionary

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!