Emollient,Emulsifying,Emulsion stabilizing,Foaming,Opacifying,Viscosity controlling
Cetearyl alcohol is a white, waxy solid supplied in a pellet or a flake. This ingredient is a blend of the fatty alcohols cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, and it is used as a co-emulsifier in the production of oil-in-water emulsions.
Although it cannot emulsify oil and water on its own, cetearyl alcohol is a critical component in many oil-in-water emulsions. Generally paired with a more oil-loving emulsifier, such as cetearyl glucoside, it helps create emulsions that give off a soft and silky emollient feel.
It is also an excellent viscosity controlling agent. The more cetearyl alcohol that is added to the product, the higher the viscosity will be, and occasionally, it is used to increase the thickness of waterless, or anhydrous, systems as well. This structuring capability of cetearyl alcohol makes it useful for stabilizing emulsions, which lends to its ability to function as a co-emulsifier.
Due to the co-emulsifying trait of this ingredient, it also is considered an opacifier because emulsions are always opaque. Cetearyl alcohol is a natural ingredient, with both components of its blend being derived from palm oil.
When combined with ceteareth-20, cetearyl alcohol forms a comedogenic mix (according to acne.org).