The material selection platform
Cosmetics Ingredients
The material selection platform
Cosmetics Ingredients


CAS Number 9005-64-5
Chem/IUPAC Name: Sorbitan, monododecanoate, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) derivs.
COSING REF No: 79318
Polysorbate 20 is a type of oily liquid ingredient that is used in the cosmetic industry because it acts as an emulsifier and helps bind oil and water together. It enhances the spreadability of formulations and is also gentle on skin and hair. Polysorbate 20 can be found in products like face washes, body lotions, hair sprays, mascaras and foundations. It is also responsible for creating foam in cleansing products. The chemical formula of Polysorbate 20 is C58H114O26.

What is POLYSORBATE 20 used for?

Polysorbate 20 offers many benefits to the cosmetic and personal care industry. It is useful for skin and hair formulations in many different ways.
  • Skin care: It acts as a great surfactant that reduces the surface tension of other ingredients to result in a stable product. It also produces foam in cleansing products and attracts oil and dirt to wash them away
  • Hair care: Apart from its surfactant traits, it doubles up as a fragrance ingredient as Polysorbate 20 is derived from sorbitol which comes from certain sweet smelling fruits. Hence, it enhances the scent of the products that it is added to
  • Cosmetic products: It is a good emulsifier that prevents the water based and oil based ingredients from separating in a formulation. This results in a better textured product that is easy to spread and apply


Polysorbate 20 is made by the reaction of sorbitol and polyol with ethylene oxide. The number 20 here represents the number of molecules of ethylene oxide that were reacted. Polysorbate 20 appears as a viscous liquid that is clear, yellow or yellow green in color.

What does POLYSORBATE 20 do in a formulation?

  • Emulsifying
  • Surfactant

Safety profile

Polysorbate 20 is safe for use on skin and hair. It is sometimes termed as a carcinogen because of the possible contamination with 1,4-dioxane during the manufacturing process. However, proper filtration processes make this ingredient absolutely safe for use. Polysorbate 20 is also vegan and non-comedogenic, which means that it does not clog pores or cause acne.

POLYSORBATE 20 Alternatives

Technical profile

Property Values
Boiling Point >100°C
Melting Point 98.9°C
pH 6.0-8.0
Solubility Soluble in water

Commercial Selection : Grades containing solely POLYSORBATE 20

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