Know Your Ingredients: Polyacrylamide

by Gio


What it is
Polyacrylamide is a polymer formed with monomers of Acrylamide, a toxic substance.

What it does
Polyacrylamide is used in cosmetic and personal care products as a film former agent: it creates a thin film on skin that moisturizes and binds water in. This film also prevents hair from absorbing moisture so that hairstyles will hold for hours.
In addition, it can be used in sunscreens to help the product remain on the skin after water immersion (you still need to reapply though!) and in cleansers as an abrasive.
Polyacrylamide is also used in a product called Aquamid, a filler injected to fill in wrinkles, enhance cheekbones and get plumper lips among other things. The treatment is considered permanent. It can potentially be removed, but it’s difficult.

Side effects
Unlike Acrylamide, Polyacrylamine isn’t considered toxic. However there are concerns about a possible contamination as Polycrylamide could potentially secrete Acrylamide. According to the FDA Polycrylamide can be used in cosmetics and personal care products if it contains less than 0.2% of acrylamide units. In addition, they limited the residues of acrylamide in finished products to 5ppm.
Polyacrylamine molecules are too big to penetrate the skin, but there are concerns about injections (Aquamid). The treatment is considered safe, but there can be problems with bacteria infections and it still raises questions about potential release of Acrylamide.


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Vicki Norris May 9, 2013 - 9:51 pm

I love your website! Thank you for providing such valuable information for those of us who aren’t knowledgable! I am a massage therapist and a budding aromatherpist. I use unscented bases for lotions, shower gels, etc., and then scent them with essential oils and fragrance oils. Thank you for providing a website that contains a wealth of information that I can confidently share with my customers about the ingredients in my products. WOW! Not only is it informative, but it also relieves my mind as to what is really in the products I use and put my name on. Thank you again!

beautifulwithbrains May 10, 2013 - 7:00 am

Vicky, you’re very welcome. I’m glad you find it useful.


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