WIKD: Stearic Acid

This ingredient is present in probably 9 out of 10 beauty products.  But what is it. where does it come from, and should you avoid it?

On the label it is otherwise known as: Octadecanoic acid, C18:0

What is it? A solid, waxy fatty acid found in cascarilla bark, butter acids, tallow, and other animal fats and oils.

What does this ingredient claim to do/what is it known for?-  It is a thickening and hardening agent; used as an emulsifier to help bind creamy products by helping to mix water & oil segments; also a surfactant (soap) in facial and body cleansers.

What products have I tried that contain this ingredient? – Stearic acid is a component of MANY personal care formulations, and unfortunately unless a company or product is vegan, chances are it came from an animal source (usually not specified).

Some uses for stearic acid: hand cream, face cream, liquid powder, liquid and cream foundations, soap, chewing gum, facial cleansers, moisturizers, suppositories, making of oil pastels, shaping hard candies, and as a food flavoring.  It is in literally almost any soap, shaving cream, foundation, or deodorant you have used at one point.

Conclusion: Bunk or Buy?  Safe or Avoid? – This fatty substance has been known to be sourced from everything under the sun from coconuts to slaughtered cows and pigs, but in most cases in America comes from pig fat.  So if you keep kosher or halal, or if you just don’t like the idea of putting pig fat on your face, look for products and brands that are vegan to ensure that any stearic acid content comes from a plant source like coconut or shea.