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Glyceryl Stearate: Overview, Stability, Formulation, Safety, Alternatives, Research Studies

Last updated: Aug 2023
In this article:

Overview of Glyceryl Stearate

Glyceryl stearate is a commonly used ingredient in skincare products. It is derived from a combination of glycerin (a humectant) and stearic acid (a fatty acid). This compound is typically a white or creamy powder with a waxy texture. It is insoluble in water but soluble in oils and fats.

Common Uses in Skincare Products:

Glyceryl stearate is widely utilized in skincare products due to its unique properties. It acts as an emulsifier, helping to blend oil and water-based ingredients together. This allows for the creation of stable and homogeneous skincare products like lotions, creams, and serums. Additionally, it helps to improve the texture and consistency of these products, making them easier to spread on the skin.


There are several benefits associated with the use of glyceryl stearate in skincare products. Firstly, it acts as a moisturizer, preventing transepidermal water loss and helping to maintain the skin's hydration levels. This is especially beneficial for individuals with dry or dehydrated skin.

Furthermore, glyceryl stearate has emollient properties, which help to soften and smoothen the skin. It forms a protective barrier on the skin's surface, preventing moisture loss and reducing the occurrence of dryness, flakiness, and roughness. Regular use of skincare products containing glyceryl stearate can result in a more supple and nourished skin texture.

Potential Side Effects:

While glyceryl stearate is generally considered safe for use in skincare products, some individuals may experience allergic reactions or skin irritations. It is always important to patch test any new product containing this ingredient on a small area of your skin before applying it to the entire face or body.

Moreover, it is worth noting that some studies suggest glyceryl stearate may have comedogenic properties, meaning it can potentially clog pores and contribute to the formation of acne. However, this depends on the individual's skin type and sensitivity. If you have acne-prone or oily skin, it is advisable to consult with a dermatologist before using products containing glyceryl stearate.

Stability and Shelf Life

Factors Affecting Stability

When it comes to stability, there are several factors that can play a significant role in determining the shelf life of a product. These factors include:

  1. Temperature: High temperatures can accelerate the degradation of products, while low temperatures can cause crystallization. Therefore, it is important to store products at the recommended temperature to maintain their stability.
  2. Humidity: Moisture can promote microbial growth and lead to the degradation of certain ingredients. It is important to store products in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture absorption.
  3. Light: Exposure to sunlight and artificial light can cause oxidation and degradation of certain ingredients. Products should be stored in opaque or light-resistant containers and kept away from direct light sources.
  4. Oxygen Exposure: Oxygen can cause oxidation reactions, resulting in the degradation of certain ingredients. It is crucial to store products in airtight containers to minimize oxygen exposure.

Recommended Storage Conditions

To ensure the stability and prolong the shelf life of products, it is essential to store them under specific conditions. Here are some recommended storage conditions:

  1. Temperature: Most products should be stored at room temperature, which typically ranges between 20-25°C (68-77°F). However, it is always beneficial to follow the specific storage temperature recommendations mentioned on the packaging or product guidelines.
  2. Humidity: Products should be stored in a cool, dry place with humidity levels below 60%. Excessive humidity can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria, compromising the product's stability and safety.
  3. Light: Products should be stored in a dark place or in opaque containers to minimize exposure to light. This helps to prevent photochemical reactions and maintains the integrity of the product.
  4. Packaging: Proper packaging is crucial for maintaining stability. Products should be stored in airtight containers to prevent oxidation and contamination. It is also important to avoid exposing products to air for extended periods during use.

Shelf Life of Glyceryl Stearate in Different Formulations

The shelf life of glyceryl stearate, which is commonly used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in various formulations, can vary depending on the specific product and formulation. However, under recommended storage conditions, glyceryl stearate can typically have a shelf life of around 1 to 2 years.

It should be noted that the shelf life may differ for different formulations, such as creams, lotions, or ointments. The presence of other ingredients, such as antioxidants or preservatives, can also affect the stability and shelf life of glyceryl stearate in a formulation.

To ensure the longevity of products containing glyceryl stearate, it is important to store them according to the recommended storage conditions mentioned above. Additionally, it is beneficial to adhere to any specific guidelines provided by the manufacturer regarding the shelf life of the product.

By considering the factors affecting stability, following the recommended storage conditions, and being aware of the shelf life of specific ingredients, users can ensure the quality and efficacy of their products over an extended period.

Formulation Considerations

When developing a new product formulation, there are several important factors to consider. In this guide, we will explore three critical areas: compatibility with other ingredients, impact on product texture and emulsion stability, and effective concentration range.

Compatibility with Other Ingredients

  • Ensure all ingredients are compatible with each other to avoid undesirable effects.
  • Assess the physical and chemical properties of each ingredient.
  • Conduct compatibility tests, such as mixing tests or thermal analysis.

Impact on Product Texture and Emulsion Stability

  • Select ingredients that are compatible with desired texture and emulsion stability.
  • Thickening agents and emulsifiers play a significant role in texture and stability.
  • Conduct small-scale trials to determine optimal ingredient combination.

Effective Concentration Range

  • Determine appropriate concentration range for each ingredient.
  • Consider functional properties and potential interactions.
  • Conduct tests and evaluations to identify optimal concentration range.

Safety and Regulatory Considerations

The safety and regulatory considerations play a crucial role in product development and ensure the protection of consumers. In this guide, we will discuss three important subtopics related to safety and regulatory considerations: toxicological profile and FDA approval status, skin sensitization and allergenic potential, and regulatory restrictions and guidelines.

Toxicological Profile and FDA Approval Status

Before introducing a new product into the market, it is essential to evaluate its toxicological profile. This involves assessing the potential risks associated with its ingredients and their impact on human health. The FDA plays a vital role in regulating and approving products, ensuring they meet safety standards. Companies should conduct thorough toxicological studies and submit the relevant data to the FDA for review and approval. Understanding the FDA approval process and the requirements for toxicological profile evaluation is crucial to comply with regulations.

Skin Sensitization and Allergenic Potential

Skin sensitization refers to an allergic reaction that occurs when a substance comes into contact with the skin. It is important to assess a product's potential to cause skin sensitization during the development process. This can be done through various methods, including in vitro and in vivo testing. Companies must ensure that their products do not contain substances known to cause skin sensitization and are formulated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. Understanding the allergenic potential of ingredients and following proper labeling guidelines are essential to protect consumers from adverse reactions.

Regulatory Restrictions and Guidelines

Different countries have specific regulatory restrictions and guidelines in place to ensure the safety and quality of products. Companies must be aware of these regulations and comply with them when developing and marketing their products. Regulatory restrictions may include limits on certain ingredients, labeling requirements, and manufacturing standards. It is crucial to conduct thorough research and stay up-to-date with the latest regulatory changes in each target market to avoid any legal issues or product recalls.

Alternative Ingredients and Substitutes

Emulsifiers play a crucial role in the formulation of various products, including cosmetics and food. However, if you're looking for alternative options to traditional emulsifiers, there are several other options available. In this guide, we will explore some alternative ingredients and substitutes for emulsifiers, as well as natural and plant-derived alternatives.

Other Emulsifiers and Co-emulsifiers

If you're looking for different emulsifier options, there are several alternatives worth trying. One such option is lecithin, which is a naturally occurring emulsifier derived from soybeans or egg yolks. Lecithin offers excellent emulsifying properties and is commonly used in food products such as chocolate and mayonnaise.

Another alternative to traditional emulsifiers is xanthan gum. Although primarily used as a thickening agent, xanthan gum also possesses emulsifying properties. It can stabilize emulsions and help improve texture in various products like salad dressings and sauces.

Natural and Plant-derived Alternatives

For those seeking natural and plant-derived alternatives, there are various options to consider. One such alternative is beeswax, which is a natural emulsifier derived from the wax produced by bees. Beeswax is commonly used in cosmetic products like creams and lotions, as it provides stability and helps retain moisture.

Another natural alternative is candelilla wax, derived from the candelilla plant. Candelilla wax offers similar emulsifying properties to beeswax and is often used in lip balms and lotions.

Comparison of Glyceryl Stearate Variants

Glyceryl stearate is a common emulsifying ingredient used in cosmetics. However, there are different variants of glyceryl stearate, and it's important to understand their differences.

Glyceryl stearate SE (self-emulsifying) is a variant that doesn't require additional emulsifiers to create stable emulsions. It offers ease of use and is commonly used in creams and lotions.

Glyceryl stearate citrate is another variant that combines glyceryl stearate with citric acid. It offers emulsifying properties as well as moisturizing benefits, making it ideal for skincare products.

Glyceryl stearate phosphate is a variant that offers excellent stability, especially in products containing active ingredients like vitamins or antioxidants.

Research Studies on Glyceryl Stearate in Skincare

Research studies have become an integral part of understanding the efficacy and benefits of various ingredients in skincare products. One such ingredient is glyceryl stearate, which has been the subject of scientific studies focusing on its effectiveness in skincare. This guide aims to provide information on the scientific studies conducted on glyceryl stearate and its potential benefits in moisturization, skin barrier function, and anti-aging.


  • A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science demonstrated that glyceryl stearate is a safe and effective ingredient for moisturizing the skin.
  • The study showed that it helps to retain moisture by forming a protective barrier on the skin's surface, preventing excessive water loss and keeping the skin hydrated.

Skin Barrier Function

  • A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that glyceryl stearate can strengthen the skin's natural barrier, thereby reducing transepidermal water loss and improving the skin's ability to protect itself from environmental stressors.
  • This finding suggests that glyceryl stearate can be beneficial in managing conditions such as dry and sensitive skin.

Anti-Aging and Anti-Inflammatory Properties

  • A study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science found that glyceryl stearate can help reduce the presence of certain inflammation markers in the skin, indicating its potential for soothing irritated and inflamed skin.
  • Another study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that glyceryl stearate can increase collagen production, promoting a more youthful appearance and potentially reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


  1. Glyceryl stearate is a common ingredient used in skincare products as an emulsifier and thickening agent.
  2. It helps to combine and stabilize water and oil-based ingredients, which contributes to the smooth, creamy texture of skincare products.
  3. Glyceryl stearate acts as a moisturizing agent by forming a protective barrier on the skin, reducing moisture loss and increasing hydration.
  4. It can also enhance the absorption of other beneficial ingredients, allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin.
  5. Glyceryl stearate is generally considered safe for most skin types, including sensitive skin, as it has low irritancy potential.
  6. However, individuals with specific allergies or sensitivities should always check product labels and consult with a dermatologist before using skincare products containing glyceryl stearate.