When Sorbitol – a sugar alcohol that can be derived from either a vegetable or a fruit source – is treated with 20 moles of Ethylene Oxide, the chemical reaction results in Sorbitan Monolaurate, which is also known as a Polysorbate (specifically Polysorbate 20 or Solubilizer). Solubilizer is a water-soluble emulsifier, which binds water and oil together.

Polysorbate 20 is a gentle, oily, liquid cosmetic additive that functions as a nonionic surfactant and wetting agent that enhances the spreadability of liquids. As a solubilizer, it helps both essential oils and fragrance oils to attach to various types of cosmetic bases, including liquid, cream, and gel bases, and thereby prevents the oils and bases from separating. As a dispersant, it also helps to diffuse oils throughout water and to prevent the oils from clumping or settling. As an anti-static agent, Polysorbate 20 helps to reduce and prevent the buildup of static charges. Furthermore, it is a thickener as well as a viscosity modifier, which helps prevent changes to a product’s viscosity when it is subjected to varying room temperatures, such as extreme cold or heat.



Polysorbate 20 is added to water-based cosmetic formulations as the last component required for ensuring that essential oils and fragrance oils remain blended with the bases to which they are added. Its soothing, non-irritating quality makes it ideal for addition to formulations for bath products, for body and facial cleansers, for baby products, and for other transparent and scented products, as it helps retain both the fragrance and the clarity.



To incorporate Polysorbate 20 into a formulation, blend it with an equal amount of essential oils or fragrance oils for a 1:1 ratio of solubilizer to scent. Blend this combination until it is a clear mixture, then stir it directly into the base to stabilize the essential oils, to ensure that they remain thoroughly combined in the formula, and to help the final product maintain its transparency.


When added to this kind of formulation…

Face Wash, Toner, Face Cream

Body Wash, Body Lotion, Body Spray, Bath Oil

Room Spray, Linen Spray

Ointment, Balm, Salve

Shampoo, Pomade, Hair Spray

Foundation, Lip Makeup, Mascara

Baby Skin Care, Sun Block


Solubilizer Polysorbate 20 functions as a(n):

  • Solubilizer
  • Stabilizer
  • Emulsifier
  • Surfactant
  • Wetting Agent
  • Dispersant
  • Anti-static Agent
  • Thickener
  • Viscosity Modifier
  • Fragrance Ingredient
  • Lubricant


It helps to:

  • Combine immiscible ingredients
  • Gently cleanse and soothe the skin and scalp
  • Create foam in cleansing products
  • Offer a consistent thoroughly-blended feel to products
  • Maintain product transparency and clarity
  • Enhance spreadability of product on skin


The recommended maximum dosage is 1-20%



As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, Solubilizer Polysorbate 20 Raw Material is for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using this product for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women as well as those with sensitive skin and an allergy to coconuts are especially advised not to use Solubilizer Polysorbate 20 Raw Material without the medical advice of a physician. This product should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Prior to using Solubilizer Polysorbate 20 Raw Material, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by dissolving 1 tsp Solubilizer Polysorbate 20 Raw Material in 1 tsp of a preferred Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Solubilizer Polysorbate 20 must never be used near the inner nose and ears or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.

Potential side effects of Solubilizer Polysorbate 20 include skin irritation. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use. In some products with Solubilizer Polysorbate 20, the water and oils may separate; however, they will become re-emulsified upon shaking.

IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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