Polysorbate 20 is derived from lauric acid and can be used as raw materials for various pharmaceutical products in scientific applications. Lauric acid (C12H24O2) is a saturated fatty acid that naturally occurs in coconut oil, and butter is a common food source. Due to its relative non-toxicity and emulsifying properties, it is also used in thousands of household items.
When sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that can be extracted from vegetables or fruits, is treated with 20 moles of ethylene oxide, a chemical reaction produces sorbitan monolaurate, which is also known as polysorbate ester (specifically polysorbate sorbitan ester or solubilizer). Solubilizers are water-soluble emulsifiers that combine water and oil together.
Polysorbate 20 are mild oil-based liquid cosmetic additives that function as non-ionic surfactants and wetting agents, enhancing the spreadability of liquids. As solubilizers, they help essential oils and aromatic oils adhere to a variety of cosmetic bases, including liquid, cream, and gel bases, preventing oil and base separation. As dispersants, they also help disperse oils in water and prevent oil clumping or settling. As an antistatic agent, polysorbate 20 helps reduce and prevent static charges from accumulating. In addition, they are thickeners and viscosity regulators that help prevent viscosity changes in products as they undergo different room temperatures (such as extreme cold or heat).
Polysorbate 20 are added to water-based cosmetic formulas as the final ingredient needed to ensure the essential oils and aromatic oils mix and remain blended with their bases. Their soothing, non-irritating qualities make them ideal additives for bath products, body and facial cleansers, baby products, and other transparent and fragrant products because they help maintain fragrance and clarity.
To add polysorbate 20 to a formula, mix it with an equal amount of essential oils or aromatic oils, so the ratio of solubilizer to scent is 1:1. Mix this combination until it forms a clear mixture, and then stir it directly into the base oil to stabilize the essential oils, ensuring they are fully mixed in the formula and helping the final product maintain its transparency.
Polysorbate 20 helps to combine immiscible ingredients, gently cleanse and soothe skin and the scalp, produce foam in cleansing products, provide a consistent thoroughly mixed feeling in products, maintain product transparency and clarity, and enhance the spreadability of products on the skin.