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Stearic acid is a saturated, 18-carbon length fatty acid that is naturally found in many animal and plant feedstocks, fats, and oils. It can also be derived synthetically. It acts as a thickening agent in cosmetic products, such as lotions and creams. It helps ingredients stay solid, smooth, and creamy and reduces the need for shaking before use. It’s commonly paired with other ingredients, such as glycerin or shea butter, to create a richer texture in the final product.
In addition to its skin nourishing properties, stearic acid is known as an excellent oil-in-water emulsifier and stabiliser. It can be used in conjunction with other emulsifiers, such as Sepigel 305 to create an oil-in-water emulsion with a higher viscosity than straight stearic acid.
It has an affinity for lipids, making it a good choice to help keep oils in suspension and stabilize emulsions. It is an active emulsifier that enhances the performance of other emulsion-forming ingredients, such as polyethylene glycol and phenoxyethanol. It also improves the sensory profile of the final product, resulting in a soft waxy feel to the touch and a pearly or glossy appearance on the skin.
This ingredient is considered to be safe in most concentrations for topical use in products intended for external application, but it may be an issue for some individuals who are sensitive to fatty acids or have a history of allergic reactions. It’s advisable to consult a dermatologist or perform a patch test before use.