Monday, May 31, 2010

Question: Polysorbate 20 vs. polysorbate 80

Anonymous posted this question in this post: What's the difference between polysorbate 80 & 20?

Polysorbates are ethoxylates of fatty acids esterified with anhydrosorbitol. Polysorbate 20 is a polyoxyethylene derivative of sorbitan monolaurate whereas polysorbate 80 is a polyoxyethylene derivative of sorbitan and oleic acid. And as much as I love chemistry, I realize this really isn't all that helpful...

Polysorbates are emulsifiers, wetting agents, and solubilizers that we use to bring small amounts of fragrance, essential, or carrier oils into a watery environment. We can use them to emulsify an all oil ingredient in our bath, or to make a water based product with a tiny bit of oils in them. 

One difference between the two is their HLB value - polysorbate 20 has an HLB value of about 16.7, whereas polysorbate 80 has an HLB value of about 15. (Click here for a list of HLB values!) 

The other difference happens in our products. We generally use polysorbate 20 to emulsify fragrance or essential oils in water, whereas we generally use polysorbate 80 to emulsify carrier or more complicated oils in water. If I were to make a shampoo to which I wanted to add 2% fragrance oils, I'd use polysorbate 20. If I were to make a shampoo to which I wanted to add 2% olive oil, I'd use polysorbate 80. If I were to make a bath bomb or bath oil, I'd want to use polysorbate 80 to carry the heavier oils into the bath water and make them disperse. 

That's the long answer. The short answer is that we use polysorbate 20 to emulsify small amounts of lighter oils and polysorbate 80 to emulsify slighter larger amounts of heavier oils. 

34 comments:

TheSoapGallery said...

Thank you so much for finally answering the questions I've had for ages about the different uses :)

Janet said...

Fabulously put. Can you shed some light on some of the others such as the PEG's, etc?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Janet. I posted about esters from August 8th to September 22nd. You can find the permanent list of those posts in the emollients - oils, butters & esters page.

Anonymous said...

The HLB values you list for polysorbate 20 and 80 are reversed. Polysorbate 20 has an HLB value of 16.7 because it incorporates a shorter fatty acid chain (lauryl). Polysorbate 80 is esterified with oleic acid which is longer than lauryl, thus making it more oily and giving it a lower HLB value of 15.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous! I can't believe I switched those around like that. Thanks for pointing that out - I've edited the post to reflect the correct HLB values!

DannyY said...

Hello Susan - and thank you so much for your effort above, and with the links and things..!

I'm a massage therapist, and I'm curious to know, please, how much - eg, Polysorbate 80?, I'd need to add to simply Canola oil, to help make it easier to 'wash out' for clients, and for me (towels..)

I've trawled lots over the net, but honestly? I can't seem to find anything that quite nails this particular application...and I'm having a hard time applying the principles on the 'lotion crafter' link which has some pretty scary calculations for making lotions! :-)

Suffice to say, is there anything really a little simple that might work?

I'd be very grateful for any ideas - for say, 1 Ltr of canola oil (HLB7!) to make is easier to wash out in water... :-)

Thanks very much!
Danny
darrien28@gmail.com

oo - ps, I will use this australian site to get the emulsifiers, etc...

http://shop.newdirections.com.au/epages/newdirections.sf/secHkfNbWDgf9Q/?ObjectPath=/Shops/newdirections/Categories/17

Polysorbate 80? :-)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Danny. Normally you'd use equal amounts of oils to polysorbate 80, but you'd have to play around with it to make sure it's the best ratio for that particular oil. If you're looking for non-staining oils, sesame seed and fractionated coconut oil will be your best bet!

Click here for the section of the blog about emollients!

Welly said...

Hi Susan, I have tried my mix my recipe of oil in water and it seems that the polysorbate 80 does not 'dissolve' the essential oil completely. Do I need to play with the temperature of both the oil and water before adding the polysorbate 80 and essential oil?

Can't figure it out after so many try outs..

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Welly. Polysorbate 80 isn't for essential oils. Use polysorbate 20 instead and see how that goes!

Sam F said...

Hi Susan,
Love your blog! Do you think heating will aide an o/w emulsion when adding 0.3% eo's & 1.2% polysorbate 20 to water?
Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sam F! Yes, heating is always a good thing. I've written more in today's Weekend Wonderings. Check it out!

welly ng said...

Thank you Susan.. Your blog really helped me with my cosmetic 'adventure'.

Yoshy said...

Hai Susan, thanks for your very helpful post. If i want yo mix both carrier oil and essential oil in the water mist, what should i use? Polysorbate 20 or 80?
Thank you,
Yoshy

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Yoshy. What's your instinct? What do you think you would want to use based on the idea that polysorbate 20 is used for essential or fragrance oils and polysorbate 80 is used for carrier oils? Just curious what you got out of this post...

susana so said...

Hi Susan,
what about facial cleansing oil to remove makeup? P20 or P80? which one is easy to wash off? How much should I use in 100 ml carrier oil(Grapeseed oil) for the best cleansing result?
Thanks a lot
ss

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Susana! Have you seen this post on the oil cleansing method and solubilizers?
http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.ca/2013/12/what-do-you-want-to-know-oil-cleansing_21.html

Maria Irena Martin said...

thank you very much

Carolyn Openshaw said...

Any suggestions on a substitute for Polysorbate 80? Perhaps something more natural?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Carolyn! Welcome to the blog! The only suggestion would be to try caprylyl/capryl glucoside as a solubilizer, but it is a very picky and very sticky ingredient. It's ECOcert, so I guess it's more natural - I really don't know what that word means - but it's not a very good ingredient compared to using PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil or polysorbate 80. I encourage you to take a look at my experiments with it and compare it to the other solubilizers before you buy it. I didn't have much luck with it and eventually threw out an entire bottle because I hated it so much. It was even sticky in the bottle, so I had trouble cleaning up anywhere I set it down if there was a drip on the side, and I had trouble removing the lid! (I think it's obvious how much I dislike this ingredient!)

I guess my question is why isn't polysorbate 80 considered natural? It's edible!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

Great post! I've recently made a water based spray with fragrance oil at 1% and poly 80 at equal amounts. It's sticky. My ingredients are just those three. I know i need to use poly 20 but it's just not available in my country. You think the poly 80 is the culprit? Would poly 20 remove stickyness? Thinking of ordering some abroad. Thanks

Lucy 😃

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lucy! I've answered your question in today's Weekend Wonderings. The short answer is that polysorbate 20 is also sticky.

Please note that you have to have a preservative in that product because any time we have water, we have to have a preservative.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan !!

Your blogs are really informative

Regarding Poly 20 Vs Poly 80 - as i checked on web - it is mentioned that - the concentration of Ethylene oxide used to prepare is different thus the grades are named accordingly ... Poly 20 / Poly 60 / Poly 80 etc...

Can you please confirm?
Also Can you point out any other differences?


RoB

Cynthia Scott said...

Seems for every new application I'd like to try I need to buy yet another ingredient. It's costing me hundreds of dollars. I am practically set up to start a shop for crying out loud - cuz they all come in big sizes unless you want to pay $4 for 1 oz or $8 for 16 oz so of course I always spend the extra $4 cuz it just seems silly to pay 8 times the amount just because I'm buying a rather small amount but this seems a universal practice - except not so much on ebay - but there you get ripped too, although not quite as blatantly, and there you have no info regarding quality or the reviews of people who've used the product so you're really taking chances each time (although I've generally had good luck - If someone's rating is over 99% it's likely their products are good ones - still it's questionable, uncomfortable and kinda scary actually).

In any case, I am not out to sell anything but I have bought three full size sets of shelves to accommodate all this stuff LOL. And this just started out as a little hobby - it's turned practically into a full-scale production except that I don't make very much stuff!! AND I don't have enough room still!!! I need at least one more set of shelves! And I keep alot of oils in the fridge - I swear half my fridge is full of oil! (My lotions are turning out ok - a little sticky and my conditioners excellent!! :)! ) And I still want to get into surfectants but I don't quite understand them yet so not spending a dime on it until I do. Seems a whole new ball of wax!! (But I do make real soap. And that turns out well! Still I want to make shampoo :(! I've tried real soap on my hair and YUCK!!) It would be kinda cool to put some SLSA into a bath bomb though right? But I just am looking at too many variables then!!!

So I bought some poly 20 because I use EOs alot!!! And I just thought it would come in handy (and I had to spend $100) and like everything else it's not too expensive (it's the sheer number of products that gets ya!!!) and indeed I have used it several times - so a good investment. However now I'd like to make some bath bombs (like a bath bomb/truffle). But I don't particularly want to buy another huge bottle of stuff just to incorporate a few tbps of olive or avocado oil into my bath bombs for the convenience of not having to scrub out the tub so often!!! But it would be nice since I'm sending them as gifts.

Would it just be a waste of product to try to use the poly 20 for it instead? Does it just not work at all or just not as well or kinda or half-way or what? Would it be helpful to use more? (I read the entire sheet with all the calculations and I'm pretty sure I understood it - what I didn't understand was how you came up with 2% as the number for how much of emulsifier you'd use?!?! I was under the assumption that one uses 25%! I know off topic - still...) Is it a humongous assumption too that since it is both hydrophilic and lipophylic (sp? anyway you know what I mean, I don't want to leave this page just to check that) that it does NOT set off citric acid/baking soda to fizz just like witch hazel does not (or am I wrong about that? and if so why does Anne Marie use that then? well except that it's a toner)?

Ok sorry for all the complaining LOL I'm just sooo good at it!!! LOL - so double question - would it just be a waste to use it for bath bombs/truffles (would it be helpful to use more - greater than 100% of the oils instead of equal to the amount of oils - do you get my meaning?) Or better to go without instead. And does it set off the fizzing? - so like for EOs you're adding such a small percentage that that amount of fizzing really is acceptable but when we're talking tbsp we're talking an unacceptable amount of fizzing - unless I were making an ENORMOUS batch and I am not - we're talking 8 or so medium-large ones.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you soooo much!!!!

Cynthia

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

So your question is should we use polysorbate 20 in a bath bomb? What is the purpose of using it? What is it solubilizing? It won't set off the fizz, but a lot of things won't set off the fizz, like oils, which is what I use.

As a note, not all emulsifiers use the 25% rule. Check the FAQ for more information on that. And polysorbate 20 wouldn't follow it because it's not an emulsifier, it's a solubilizer. For solubilizers, you start with a 1:1 ratio for the oil to solubilizer, and work your way up until it is solubilized.

Debs said...

Hello, Susan! Thank you for your informative blog :). I've been using polysorbate 20 and essential oils and distilled water to make a homemade "poo pourri" spray but realize now that even for things going in the toilet bowl, I should have some sort of preservative. I would also like to blend EOs and polysorbate 20 50/50 to be able to drop into epsom salts before taking a bath. Could you help point me to the best preservatives for these applications? I am hoping for something I could just stir in at room temperature. How long would leucidal preserve such a mixture for? Is polysorbate 20 a good pH for optiphen plus? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks :).

kayla greer said...

Im planning on making bathbombs ill be using sweet almond oil. Should i use 80 or 20?

Nurse Mi'el said...

I'm just guessing, but people like me often gloss over links because they don't want to be side-tracked: a surprisingly simple feat.

Anyway, while I love nearly all of Susan's posts, and have always learned something... the PDF linked is no joke. It has charts/lists with HLB values of many oils and many emulsifiers, formulation support, and a lot more in what I think amounted to six or seven pages.

Short version: the link Susan provides helped me learn in 15 minutes what I'd been trying to grasp in two days. Check it out [identical link]: http://www.lotioncrafter.com/pdf/Emulsions_&_HLB_System.pdf

Nurse Mi'el said...

Arrh, downside of posting under Name/URL: no edit feature.

I said: "...while I love nearly all of Susan's posts, and have always learned something..."

And I meant "Susan is really awesome and I don't know why I phrased this statement this way because all I'm trying to say is 'her posts *and* this link, they're all awesome!"

Kinda superfluous comment, but I felt the need to (re)phrase more accurately.

Rachel said...

Hello all...

I found this link to be quite helpful as a place to start when using poly 20 and 80. Most of the information around how much of these products to use in any given formulation seems to be incredibly vague and not particularly helpful - ie. just play around with amounts. I understand that a lot of hobby crafters are disinclined to want to do this as it can be rather costly.

I was astounded as to how much poly 20 I actually needed to use with some fragrance oils in my body wash and shampoo formulations. The coconut and lime fragrance oil I use requires 8 parts poly 20 to 1 part oil!!!! Otherwise it just creates a foamy, cloudy oily layer on top within 24 hours. I struggled with trying to sort this out for weeks before reading this link. A lot of information on the net will say "poly 20 at 1:1 or 1:2 ratio" - I have never been successful using it at this low level. Most of the fragrances I have used require at least a 1:5 ratio.

Anyway here is the link for any who are curious....
http://knowledge.ulprospector.com/330/pcc-solubilizing-oils-water/

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rachel. If you'd like to learn more about my many many posts on the topic solubilizers since 2010, a search will bring up all kinds of posts on experiments I've done with various ones with various fragrance oils. Here the problem with saying "Use 1 gram of x with 1 gram fragrance oil y" - that information is only true for that specific fragrance from that specific store. If I tell you to use 1 gram poly 20 with 1 gram Satsuma FO, that may only apply to the version of that FO I bought from store Z. Now I have to contend with all the people telling me it didn't work for them. Better they learn how to work with this ingredient with their supplies. They're not wasting anything. They're using their supplies to learn how to make products.

Solubilizers are amongst the cheapest ingredients you can buy, so anyone worried about the cost of experimenting with these supplies to further their learning is in for a shock when they get to cosmeceuticals!

A thought: That foamy layer isn't the fragrance oil coming out of solution. It sounds like those are the bubbles rising to the surface. Oils don't foam or bubble.

Second thought: What surfactants are using that can't handle 1% fragrance oil? I've never seen a body wash or shampoo recipe that can't handle that fragrance load.

Third thought: You should never need an 8:1 ratio ever. One of the ingredients is not working with the others there.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Thanks for the link. I'm a little lost about why you posted it, so I'm eager to hear your thoughts.

Also, sorry to everyone for the lack of the odd word here and there in my previous comment. Mobile devices can be too tiny at times!

Maggie's Muse said...

Hi, Susan. I didn't see a response in the comments to your request for input about phenoxyethanol being neutralized polysorbate-80. This link was posted by Jane of Making Skincare in a forum I follow. I hope you may find it helpful, if you have not already seen the article. Also, during the discussion, it was posited that polysorbate-60 (e-wax NF) and polysorbate-20 are probably not a problem. http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eamericanpharmaceuticalreview%2Ecom%2FFeatured-Articles%2F38885-Antimicrobial-Preservatives-Part-Two-Choosing-a-Preservative%2F&urlhash=T0a8&_t=tracking_anet

Regards,
Debi

SAMANTHA SIONGCO said...

Hello there. i have been going through your blog for quite some time now. I im troubed because i am making essential oils from scratch. :( so here is what i do, i have an organic pure oil then i add polysorbate 20 and water. 1.5 ml, 4 ml, 4.5ml respectively. So it turns clear which is okay. but when i put on to my purifier or humidifier, it forms bubbles and foam which is very thick. As if i am laundrying. :( any suggestion? thank you.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Samantha. I'm afraid I'm not really sure what you're doing here. Why are you adding a solubilizer to oils? And why this one? I suggest reading a little bit more on polysorbate 20 as it's a surfactant, and this can happen. I've written quite a bit about this ingredient on the blog, so I suggest doing a search to see what I've said in the past.