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Sucrose Polystearate: An In-Depth Look at Its Role in Cosmetics

Article last updated: June 12, 2024

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Ever wondered what gives your favorite cosmetics their smooth texture and long-lasting effects? Dive into our in-depth analysis of Sucrose Polystearate, a key ingredient that's revolutionizing the beauty industry.

What is Sucrose Polystearate?

Sucrose Polystearate, also known as .alpha.-d-Glucopyranoside,.beta.-d-fructofuranosyl, esters with octadecanoic acid, is a versatile ingredient used in the cosmetic industry. It’s a sugar ester, which means it’s derived from sugar and fatty acids, specifically, sucrose and stearic acid. The name might sound a bit technical, but it’s essentially a compound made from natural ingredients you might even find in your kitchen.

The use of Sucrose Polystearate in cosmetics is not a new phenomenon. It has been used for many years due to its beneficial properties. The ingredient is known for its skin conditioning, emollient, cleansing, and emulsifying functions. This makes it a popular choice for a wide range of products, from skincare to haircare and even makeup.

So, how is Sucrose Polystearate made? The process involves esterification, a chemical reaction that combines an alcohol (in this case, the sugar sucrose) and an acid (stearic acid). The result is a compound that is both water and oil-soluble, making it an excellent ingredient for cosmetics that need to provide moisture and conditioning to the skin or hair. The production process is carefully controlled to ensure the highest quality and safety standards.

The Benefits/Uses of Sucrose Polystearate

In this section, we will delve into the officially recognized benefits and uses of Sucrose Polystearate:

Skin Conditioning

As a skin conditioner, Sucrose Polystearate plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and vitality of your skin. It helps to keep the skin hydrated, soft, and smooth by reducing moisture loss and drawing water from the environment into the skin. This ingredient works by forming a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, which helps to improve its appearance and texture. So, if you’re looking for a product that can help you achieve a supple and well-nourished skin, those containing Sucrose Polystearate might be worth considering.


Sucrose Polystearate also functions as an emollient. Emollients are ingredients that soften and smooth the skin, making it feel more comfortable and less tight. They work by filling in the spaces between skin cells with lipids, thereby creating a smooth surface. This is particularly beneficial for those with dry or flaky skin, as it can help to restore the skin’s natural moisture balance and prevent further dryness.


Another important function of Sucrose Polystearate is its cleansing properties. It helps to remove dirt, oil, and other impurities from the skin’s surface, leaving it clean and refreshed. This makes it a valuable ingredient in products like facial cleansers and body washes. It’s gentle on the skin and doesn’t strip it of its natural oils, making it suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.


Lastly, Sucrose Polystearate acts as an emulsifier. In cosmetics, emulsifiers are used to mix oil and water-based ingredients that would otherwise not blend well. This ensures that the product maintains a consistent and smooth texture, enhancing its overall quality and effectiveness. So, when you see Sucrose Polystearate listed in your favorite cream or lotion, know that it’s there to ensure all the ingredients work together harmoniously.

Note: the listed benefits above are exclusively based on the officially recognized and defined functions of the ingredient, as documented by the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI).

Potential Side Effects & Other Considerations

Sucrose Polystearate is generally considered safe for use in cosmetics. It is a skin conditioning agent, emollient, cleanser, and emulsifier, and is not known to have any major allergenic potential. However, as with any cosmetic ingredient, individual reactions can vary, and some people may experience side effects.

  • Some individuals may experience skin irritation or redness, particularly if they have sensitive skin.
  • Although rare, allergic reactions can occur. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itching, swelling, and rash.
  • In some cases, prolonged use may lead to dryness or flaking of the skin.

Regarding individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, there is currently a lack of data on the safety of topical application of Sucrose Polystearate during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. As such, it is recommended that these individuals consult a healthcare professional for further advice before using products containing this ingredient.

Adverse reactions to Sucrose Polystearate are not common, but it is always a good idea to conduct a patch test before using a new product widely. Apply a small amount of the product to a discreet area of skin and wait 24 hours to see if any reaction occurs.

On the comedogenicity scale, Sucrose Polystearate is rated as a 1, meaning it is unlikely to clog pores. This makes it a suitable ingredient for those prone to acne, blemishes, and breakouts. However, everyone’s skin is different, and what works well for one person may not work as well for another.

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