glycol stearate in skincare

What the heck is Glycol Stearate?

You’ve just taken a look at your skincare labels for the first time and this chemical is popping up all over the place – even in your natural products.

Now you’re curious. What does it do and – most importantly – is it safe? Let’s find out:

What Is Glycol Stearate?

Glycol Stearate is the ester of Ethylene Glycol and Stearic Acid, a common fatty acids. Fatty acids are the building blocks of skin cells. They strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and deeply moisturise skin.

Glycol Stearate looks like a cream-coloured wax solid at room temperature. It can be derived from plants or made synthetically in a lab.

Related: How To Strengthen Your Skin’s Protective Barrier (And Why It Matters)

Want to know what ingredients you really need to avoid in your skincare products? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet:

How Does Glycol Stearate Benefit Skin?

Truth be told, Glycol Stearate is in your skincare products more to improve the formula than to benefit skin. But it does a bit of that too.

Here’s what Glycol Stearate is really doing in your skincare products:

  • Emollient: It makes skin softer and smoother, like a baby’s.
  • Emulsion stabilizer: It helps to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid parts.
  • Opacifying agent: It reduces the transparent look of skincare and makeup products. This trick is particularly useful in makeup products that need to hide blemishes and imperfections. It also makes formulas thicker and creamier.

Glycol Stearate is one of those ingredients that don’t sound impressive on paper, but if it weren’t in your lotions and potions, you’d miss it.

I mean, do you really want to use a cream that separates into an oily layer or a concealer that doesn’t cover pimples?!

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Glycol Stearate?

Is Glycol Stearate Comedogenic?

Glycol Stearate is mildly comedogenic. Mildly is the key word here. If you’ve got super oily skin, it may be enough to give you a breakout. But, for the vast majority of people, Glycol Stearate won’t cause any problems.

Plus, remember: it’s the dose that makes the poison. Even coconut oil (one of the most comedogenic ingredients ever) won’t give you pimples if you use only a drop of it.

The lower Glycol Stearate is on the ingredient list, the less you have to worry about.

Related: Can You Trust Comedogenicity Ratings?

Does Glycol Stearate Have Any Side Effects?

No. Glycol Stearate is safe in small concentrations. Scientists tested products with 2-5% Glycol Stearate (the amount used in skincare and personal care products) and found it does NOT irritate skin. Phew!

It doesn’t harm you in any other way, either. People are scared of it because it has a chemical name, but this is a safe chemical. Yes, those exist.

Related: If You Can’t Pronounce It, Should You Put It On Your Skin?

The Bottom Line

Glycol Stearate makes skin softer and helps create elegant formulations. It’s totally safe, too.

What are your thoughts on Glycol Stearate in skincare? Let me know in the comments below.