Polysorbate 40

One of a series of emulsifiers/surfactants that is standard in many creams or lotions. High amounts of polysorbates can feel sticky, but they are often paired with other emulsifiers to better stabilize products.
Polysorbate 40


Polysorbate 40 is a mild emulsifier and surfactant that is derived from a reaction of palmitic acid and sorbitol that is sourced from palm, soybean, and sunflower oil. It is a yellow, pasty liquid. It is ethoxylated, highly stable, and can be used as a solubilizer of oils, vitamins, or fragrances in water formulations where clarity is required.

It has a long history of testing and data and is even a commonly used food additive in the US and EU. Typically, a co-emulsifier is needed in skincare lotions and creams. It can be used to create oil-in-water or oil-in-water emulsions as thus is quite versatile and cost effective.