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What are the binders and emulsifiers used in skin care products?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

Binders and emulsifiers are elements that create a stable mixture of different ingredients - binding oil and water together, for example:

  • Butylene glycol (also a humectant)
  • Polysorbates
  • Glyceryl stearate (also an emollient and adds pearlescence)
  • Cetearyl, cetyl, and stearyl alcohol (also a waxy emollient that adds
           opacity to color)
  • Stearic acid (also a surfactant and emollient and adds opacity to
           color)
  • PEG (polyethylene glycol for example, PEG-100 stearate) (also an
           emollient and surfactant)
  • Triethanolamine (also a buffer)
  • Palmitates (ethylhexyl, isopropyl, and cetyl palmitates are also
           emollients)
  • Ceteareth 20
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.