What Is Poloxamer 407, Chemically?
The name sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but poloxamer 407 is actually a polymer. A polymer is just a big word for a molecule made up of smaller units bonded together. In the case of poloxamer 407, those units are polypropylene glycol and polyethylene glycol.
Because it’s built of both hydrophilic (water-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repelling) molecules, poloxamer 407 can act as an emulsifier. That means it helps oil and water mix together, which comes in handy when you’re trying to cleanse your face.
Poloxamer 407 is a non-ionic surfactant. You can think of ionic surfactants as detergents, which are good at cutting through grease. Non-ionic surfactants are different in that they don’t have an electrical charge. That makes them less harsh and more skin-friendly.
How Is Poloxamer 407 Used in Cleansing Products?
Now that you know a little more about poloxamer 407, you’re probably wondering how and why it’s used in cleansing products.
Cleansers that contain poloxamer 407 are usually gel-based. You can find them in both drugstores and high-end beauty stores. The gel texture helps to break up makeup and oil on the skin without stripping away moisture.
Poloxamer 407 is often used in cleansing products for people with sensitive skin. That’s because it’s very gentle and won’t cause irritation. Sometimes, it’s paired with more harsh cleansing agents to create a product that’s both effective and gentle.
Poloxamer 407 in Shampoos, Mouthwashes, Toothpaste, and More
Facial cleansers aren’t the only beauty products that contain poloxamer 407. You can also find it in some shampoos, mouthwashes, and toothpastes. It serves the same purpose in these products as it does in cleansers: to remove dirt without being harsh. It also helps to distribute shampoo evenly on your scalp by improving the viscosity, or thickness, of the shampoo.
Is Poloxamer 407 Safe?
The safety of poloxamer 407 has been debated in recent years. One study reported that it can cause high cholesterol in mice. However, the study was done using a very high concentration of poloxamer 407 that’s not found in any cosmetics.
Sonication, a process that uses sound waves to create small bubbles, can cause poloxamer 407 to become highly toxic to cultured cells. This doesn’t mean that the ingredient is unsafe for humans, but it’s something to be aware of.
Other studies have found that poloxamer 407 is safe for use in cosmetics. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) expert panel has determined that poloxamer 407 is safe for use in rinse-off products, like cleansers and shampoos. It’s also fine to use in mouthwash, as long as the concentration is low.
Other Names for the Chemical
Poloxamer 407 goes by a few different names, including:
- pluronic F-127;
- synperonic PE/F-127;
- kolliphor P 407;
If you see any of these ingredients listed on a product label, poloxamer 407 is what they’re referring to. They all mean the same thing, so don’t be confused if you see a different name.
The Bottom Line
Poloxamer 407 is a non-ionic surfactant that’s often used in cleansing products. It’s gentle and won’t cause irritation, making it a good choice for people with sensitive skin. Poloxamer 407 is also found in some shampoos, mouthwashes, and toothpastes. Studies have found that poloxamer 407 is safe for use in cosmetics.
Do you have any other questions about poloxamer 407? Let us know in the comments below!
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