PEG-100 stearate is a synthetically produced ethoxylate of stearic acid. This means it contains many water-loving segments along with a medium-length carbon chain, which makes it a surfactant.
This surfactant is more specifically classified as an emulsifier that produces oil-in-water emulsions. Generally, it is combined with more oil-loving emulsifiers, such as glyceryl stearate, to produce very stable, lightweight lotions and creams.
Occasionally, PEG-100 stearate can be used as a cleansing agent due to its chemical structure, and it is used alongside more traditional cleansers, like anionic surfactants. This ingredient is supplied as on off-white pellet or flake.