The Use of Stearic Acid in Cosmetics

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Stearic acid is used in a wide variety of cosmetics and skincare products. It functions as a surfactant, emulsifier, and thickener when used in formulas.

It’s a natural fatty acid that can be derived from both animal and vegetable fat sources, but most often it comes from tallow, pork fat, and palm oil. This makes it a safer, more eco-friendly choice for cosmetic companies, and also reduces the risk of allergies or reactions to chemicals.

This ingredient is a long-chain saturated fatty acid, with 18 carbon atoms (like a tail). In the cosmetic industry, it can be found in both liquid and solid form.

Usually the fatty acids are separated into saturated and unsaturated forms through a process called hydrolysis. During this chemical reaction, the “unsaturated” bonds between carbon atoms are broken down and then a hydrogen atom is added to each of the remaining ones to make them saturated.

The resulting fatty acid is then distilled or pressed to create different concentrations. The process can take up to two or three pressings, depending on the product’s composition.

It is a highly-tolerated ingredient, which means it’s safe for just about everyone. It’s also compatible with most ingredients, including some oils, and is especially good for dry skin, according to Madfes.

It’s primarily used as a surfactant, a compound that lowers the surface tension between two substances. Without a surfactant, your face wash or cleansing gel wouldn’t be able to remove dirt and grime from the surface of your skin. It also emulsifies oil and water to help suspend impurities so they can be easily washed away with soap or other cleansers.