Polysorbate 20 is a viscous, amber-colored liquid that functions as a solubilizer.
A solubilizer is a specific type of emulsifier that is useful for dispersing small amounts of oil into a large water phase, while maintaining clarity in the solution. Polysorbate 20 is frequently used to solubilize fragrance oils into water-based systems – normally at less than two to three percent fragrance.
This capability is commonly utilized for products such as perfumes and colognes, which are clear and contain fragrance oils. Polysorbate 20 can also function as a co-emulsifier to support full emulsions, but it cannot emulsify by itself.