What are you Wearing? Carrageenan

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What is it?

Carrageenan (kar-uh-gee-nuh n) is a gelatinous polysaccharide (a large complex carb) that is extracted from red seaweed. This is either done by boiling the seaweed or treating it with a hot alkali. it is a large, highly  flexible molecule which curls to form helical structures. This strong structures are also apart of the reason that this substance is a gel at room temperatures. It is FDA approved as a common food addictive and is approved to be used in certain beauty products as well.


What does it do?

Carrageenan is normally used in products because of how it acts when under stress. Under stress products with carrageenan thin themselves out and then retain their original structure once the stress is released. This makes it perfect for substances with pumps. It is used as a thickener and an emulsifier and even in foods it is used to improve the texture. Different sub straits of carrageenan (potassium or sodium carrageenan) can be used as binders, stabilizers or film formers. It is also known to function are a fragrance ingredient, hair conditioning agent and even for masking. There is actually early research suggesting the topical application may inhibit certain genital STDs such as HPV.


What products is it in?

Facial moisturizer, toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, shaving cream, foundation, sunscreen, cleanser


Side Effects

I should start by saying that most of the side effects I found are related to Carrageenan in food and most of the studies I found as also of the same conditions. Another note I want to make is that is refers to degraded carrageenan which is completely different from the carrageenan that is allowed in our beauty products. Degraded carrageenan is created by the seaweed (Eucheumaspinosum) by partial hydrolysis using dilute Hydrochloric acid.

There have been some animal test that link in taking carrageenan in your food has a link to intestinal cancer. In fact the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified degraded carrageenan to be carcinogenic to humans and should not be consumed.


Other Names

Chondrus Crispus



Irish Moss Extract


Aubygum dm

Burtonite V-40E


Carastay C

Carageenan gum




(That I will post at the end of every blog and in the description box of every video)

  1. This is just information that I have found myself while researching and therefore it is not my own information. I will leave links to all the original files and even other bloggers who dove into this before me. I am not an expert but I want to share what I have found.
  2. At no point during this series should you take the information given as the GOLDEN STANDARD. Listen to your own body and do what is working best for you. So if you find out a product has a chemical that does not work for me and your skin is fine…KEEP IT
  3. Always feel free to do your own research and come to your own conclusions
  4. A dermatologist is a great source of information



Dr. Weil 

EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

Paula’s Choice Skincare

Truth in Aging

Carrageenan vs HPV


Cosmetics Info


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