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Formulating with Sucrose Stearate: A must-have emulsifier in your lab

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Get ready for some details about a very special, versatile, skin-loving ingredient. Read what I learned while formulating with Sucrose Stearate in today's mini guide.


What is sucrose stearate?

  • emulsifier o/w

  • co-emulsifier

  • active ingredient

  • emollient

Sucrose stearate usually comes in a form of a white powder. It is a mixture of sugar sucrose and stearic acid. In nature, sucrose is found in most fruits and vegetables while stearic acid is a fatty acid found in high concentrations in some plant butters, like shea and cocoa butter.

Properties of sucrose stearate

The formulations made with sucrose stearate provide a protective barrier on the skin to retain moisture and reduce the feeling of irritation. Sucrose stearate has re-greasing and moisturizing properties. It also helps to soften the skin and smooths its texture.

What kind of products (and textures) can I make with sucrose stearate?

Sucrose stearate enables you to create low viscosity and sprayable emulsions. By combining it with other emulsifiers or viscosity modifiers, you can also create medium viscosity and high viscosity emulsions and creams.

The emollient, moisturizing and amazing spreadability properties of sucrose stearate make the ingredient popular for use in:

  • face serums,

  • hand creams,

  • foot creams,

  • body lotions,

  • hair care,

  • after sun care,

  • shaving creams,

  • decorative lip products,

  • baby care.

Emulsions for dry and sensitive skin and light barrier repair creams are the perfect product to make with sucrose stearate. Due to its lightweight nature, the ingredient is perfect for usage in summer skincare.

What is the consistency and skin feel of an emulsion made with sucrose stearate?

Sucrose stearate forms light, gel-cream/lotion type, non-greasy emulsions. There is no soapiness, no stickiness and no rolling off the skin. It provides exceptional skin feel, spreadability, absorbency, suppleness and softness. It significantly improves the moisture content of the skin.

The emulsions made with sucrose stearate are suitable for a spray, pump or dropper bottle if working with aqueous rheology modifiers or jar containers if working with fatty alcohols or other lipid hardeners. But the choices are endless, so it all comes down to the formula you are designing.

How to formulate with sucrose stearate?

It can be processed hot and cold and added into the water or lipid phase. In some cases, it also enables one-pot method emulsification.

Usage recommendations:

  • Range of lipid phase: 10%-40% (usually 15%-25%)

  • Optimal ph: > 5.5

  • Usage concentrations: 1% (as a co-emulsifier), 2%-5% (as an emulsifier for gel creams and lotions)


Advantages of sucrose stearate

  • provides a protective barrier on the skin, improves hydration of the skin and reduces irritations

  • helps to soften the skin and smooths the skin's texture

  • forms light, gel-cream/lotion type, non-greasy emulsions

  • but also enables you to create medium viscosity and high viscosity emulsions and creams

  • no soapiness, no stickiness and no "rolling-off"

  • exceptional skin feel, spreadability and absorbency

  • can be processed hot and cold

  • appropriate for a wide range of products (face, body and hair care)

Drawbacks of sucrose stearate

Sucrose stearate is considered a moderate to weak emulsifier. Usage instructions by suppliers are a lot of the time scarce and insufficient in order to know exactly how to create stable emulsions.

However, sucrose stearate CAN BE used as the sole emulsifier in skincare products. You just have to follow the right procedure and match it with ingredients that boost the formula stability and voila - the emulsions created with sucrose stearate are easy to make, provide gorgeous skin benefits and enable the formulation of a wide range of skincare products.


ROSE & VANILLA: Dual-purpose soothing lotion with oat silk

sucrose stearate, lotion, gel cream, body yogurt

If you would love to learn how to create a lovely, stable emulsion made with sucrose stearate that is appropriate for the body and face, cold-processed and has a light, gel-cream/lotion/yogurt texture, you can find the formula in my newly launched e-book Summer essentials: Skincare recipes with 10 ingredients or less.

The formulation method is as simplified as it can be, no heating of the ingredients and no glycerin-gum slurry is required to make it.

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