What is Stearyl Alcohol?

Zara Kassam BSc (Hons), MRes, PhD researcher
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What is Stearyl alcohol?

Stearyl alcohol is an organic compound that is classified as a fatty alcohol. It is a white, waxy granule or flake, which doesn’t dissolve in water. It is derived from stearic acid which is most commonly found in vegetable, palm and coconut oils.

It is often used in hair shampoos and conditioners, moisturisers, make up, cleansers, perfumes and foundation.

 

What does it do?

Stearyl alcohol is used as an ingredient in a wide variety of skin care and cosmetics. It has a number of uses including acting as an emollient, an emulsifier, and a thickener in ointments.  As an emulsifier it helps stop products from separating into their oil and water components.

Despite alcohols being associated with drying the skin, as an emollient it acts as a lubricant in moisturisers. It helps give the skin a smoother and soft appearance.

It is also added to products as it helps stop them from being overly foamy or bubbly, especially if they are dropped or shaken.

 

Safety

Stearyl alcohol is regarded as a safe ingredient. It is a low hazard, low irritant ingredient with low toxicity.

 

Other names

Octadecan-1-ol, Octadecyl alcohol

 

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Prime, E. L., et al (2012). Rational design of monolayers for improved water evaporation mitigation. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 415, 47-58 http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Stearyl_alcohol

Klaus Noweck, Wolfgang Grafahrend, “Fatty Alcohols” in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2006, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim.

http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/stearyl-alcohol

http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/115_buff3b_suppl.pdf