Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why did I buy that? Glycol stearate

After reviewing yesterday's post, I realized I kinda covered a ton of products in the links for CME, so let's take a look at another ingredient! And sorry again for the late post - I'm going to be around 10! How am I sleeping in until 8? Does one person need 10 hours of sleep? Apparently the answer to this is yes, yes I do! And I had the coolest dream that I was the Doctor (from Doctor Who, the David Tennant version, not the Matt Smith). It was completely and utterly awesome! There's no reason the Doctor can't be a girl!  

In this post, Crystal asks the burning question - why did I buy glycol stearate? (If you'd like to post an ingredient you've bought but never used, do it in this post!)

Glycol stearate is an ester of stearic acid and ethylene glycol that we use as a low HLB emulsifier (2.9) in combination with a high HLB emulsifier (like polysorbate 80 or ceteareth-20) to create an emulsification system. We can also use it as a thickener in our products (but it's not a pearlizer, like glycol distearate...see note below). We see glycol stearate in a lot of commercial products in combination with the high HLB emulsifier as the emulsification system.

Don't confuse glycol stearate with glycol distearate - they are different products with a different HLB (1 vs. 2.9). 

Here are a few posts in which I've used glycol stearate as a low HLB emulsifier.
HLB: Using different emulsifiers and a formula. 
HLB: An example using glycol stearate

Join me tomorrow for more fun with new ingredients!

I will be getting more in depth with other ingredients, it's just that I've already covered those I've written about so far! And I will be writing a ton of posts on the weekend so I'm not writing things at the last minute, especially with this new and exciting sleeping schedule!


Ellbie said...

I like this topic! :)

Madeaj said...

Hi Susan

You mentioned in one post that you like the skin feel of Glycol stearate. What is the skin feel like? I know stearic acid has a draggy feel, which I like in body lotions. cetyl alcohol has a smoother feeling that I like in hair products. I'm curious in how they are different?

Kat said...


I'm confused and hoping you can help me understand something. A particular supplier sells Glycol Stearate as "an excellent pearlizing agent", though you mention in this post that it does not act as a pearlizer. This supplier said there is little difference between the stearate and distearate variety. The manufacturer's page that the supplier referred me to has several things listed with similar sounding names (i.e. ethylene glycol monostearate), but not just plain old "glycol stearate". Here's the manufacturer's page - http://www.innovadex.com/PersonalCare/Products/3224/Pearlizing-Agents .

Are there several ways to name this substance or is that a reference to something else? I'm so confused now...

Robert said...


Like Kat, I too, was somewhat confused about Glycol Stearate so I need to do more research.

Glycol Stearate is the proper INCI (international nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients) name but it is also known as glycol monostearate, ethylene glycol monostearate or abbreviated as EGMS.

The ingredient has several functions: emulsion stabilizer, opacifying/pearlizing agent, and skin-conditioning agent/emollient.

Commercial products containing this ingredient used for its opacifying/pearlizing qualities include shampoos, body washes, and cleansers. Used in this way, glycol stearate functions very similarly to glycol distearate.

Commerical products containing this ingredient used for its emulsion stabilizing qualities include body moisturizing lotions and hair conditioners.

The ingredient also has a nice skin afterfeel so it also functions as a skin conditioning agent in skin lotion/moisturizer type products.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering, because the HLB of glycol distearate, could it be used to make a water-in-oil emulsion? And if so, would it be used alone? I'd like to try making an w/o emulsion, but haven't been able to find out much of anything about making them. All the information I've found about making emulsions is about the O/W variety. I have read that you need a low HLB emulsifier, and also that unlike an O/W emulsion, you only need one emulsifier. Not sure how that would work. I guess you just ignore the HLB system altogether then? Because there's no combination of emollients I can use that would fit an HLB of 1.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Bridget. I'm sorry, but I don't make W/O lotions, so I'm not able to offer any advice.