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UK Faces Impending Cosmetics Shortage

The UK could be on the brink of a cosmetics shortage due to skyrocketing prices for an essential chemical used in many cosmetics, including eczema creams, fake tans, and shampoo.

The Guardian reports that a chemical called ethoxydiglycol, described as an ‘unsung hero’ or cosmetics, is part of the chemical formula that improves how cosmetics are applied to the skin, and without it, many cosmetic products would be unusable.

Ethoxydiglycol is widely used in cosmetic products because it is soluble in both oil and water-based products, such as propylene glycol, water, vegetable oil and ethanol.

The shortage, which is expected to hit the UK and European cosmetics manufacturing in the next few weeks, has already seen a near ten-fold price hike, with prices increasing from £12.10 to £103 per kg in recent weeks.

Many suppliers are now completely out of stock.

Suppliers have now set a minimum order quantity, increased from 24kg to 1,000kg, meaning a minimum order of ethoxydiglycol now costs £103,000, which will be out of reach for many smaller businesses.

According to online pharmacy, Medicine Direct, the shortage is predicted to have a huge impact on makeup, fake tan, hair dye, shampoos, fragrance, anti-ageing and skincare manufacturers.

It could also hit the makers of medical products used to treat eczema.

Diane Higham, managing director of, a fake tan supplier, said that the company ‘quietly’ produces some of the UK’s largest fake tanning brands, but they are desperately trying to source ethoxydiglycol, and the shortages have impacted their production line.

She says without the ingredient fake tan products will not have the same hold and quality that they normally possess.

“For fake tan to remain on the skin and be resistant to water, the product must be able to absorb into the skin effectively. Without a good solvent, this may not be the case.”

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