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


CAS Number 9003-39-8 / 88-12-0 / 25249-54-1
Chem/IUPAC Name: 1-ethenylpyrrolidin-2-one
EINECS/ELINCS No: 201-800-4 / 658-049-4 / 953-858-1
COSING REF No: 37364
The water-soluble polymer polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), also known as polyvidone or povidone, is created from the monomer N-vinylpyrrolidone. PVP can be chosen based on the desired application properties and is offered in a variety of molecular weights and associated viscosities. PVP is a linear polymer that consists of 1-vinyl-2-pyrrolidone monomers, and appears like a faintly yellow solid. It is used in the formulation of a wide range of product types including mascara, eyeliner, hair conditioners, hair sprays, shampoos and other hair care products and it majorly works as a film former, emulsion stabilizer, and hair fixative. In the 1950s, it was the first synthetic polymer to be used as a hair fixative in place of the insect-derived Shellac.

What is PVP used for?

PVP works as a film former, viscosity controller, emulsion stabilizer, binder, and a hair fixative in cosmetics and personal care products. It is the leading vinylpyrrolidone polymer to be used in cosmetics. PVP likes to adhere to surfaces like the skin and hair and creates a smooth, uniform film there. The film is helpful for maintaining a hairstyle and extending the use of sunscreen and colored cosmetics. The film is somewhat fragile due to PVP, which is hygroscopic and loves water, making it susceptible to destruction.
  • Hair care: It prevents the hair from absorbing moisture when used in hair care products, which helps the hair maintain its style. However, due to its hygroscopic nature, hair styled with a PVP based product loses its style in high humidity. To fix this problem, there are now several versions of VP containing film formers that are less sensitive to humidity, for example, the molecule called VP/VA Copolymer. It is used at a concentration of 0.005-35% in leave-on products and at 0.000003-13.3% in rinse-off products


PVP is synthesized via a free radical polymerization reaction starting from the vinylpyrrolidone (VP) monomer, using a free radical initiator such as Azobisisobutyronitrile (AIBN).

What does PVP do in a formulation?

  • Emulsion stabilising
  • Film forming
  • Hair fixing
  • Viscosity controlling

Safety Profile of PVP

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has reviewed PVP's safety. After analyzing the available scientific evidence, the CIR Expert Panel came to the conclusion that PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone), when used in cosmetic and personal care products, was safe. The toxicity studies conducted on PVP alone were negative for dermal irritation, and the CIR’s developmental effects and genotoxicity studies too support the safety of PVP in cosmetics.

PVP Technical profile

Property Values
Boiling Point 90-93°C
Melting Point 13°C
Solubility Soluble in water, ethanol

Commercial Selection : Grades containing solely PVP

Back to Top