Stearic acid is a common additive that can be found in a number of cosmetics and skincare products. It’s a safe, natural ingredient that can help soften and smooth skin while also helping to preserve the skin barrier.
How It Works
Stearic acid, also known as octadecanoic acid (ODA), is a naturally occurring saturated fatty acid that can be derived from both animal and plant sources. It is a very stable, waxy solid that is commonly used in cosmetics and skincare products for its multiple beneficial properties as a surfactant, emulsifier, thickener and stabilizer.
It is a good oil-in-water emulsifier that keeps water and oil-based ingredients together and prevents the separation of them. It can also lower the surface tension between water and oil, making it easier for the two to mix or be absorbed into the skin.
How It’s Used
Stearic acid can be incorporated into skin care and cosmetic products to help soften the skin and improve its appearance, says Madfes. It can also be added to cleansers, body washes and other personal care products to help remove excess oils, dirt and bacteria from the skin and hair.
How It’s Safe
Stearic acid is safe for most people and can be used frequently. However, if you have sensitive skin or if your skin is very dry, you should use this ingredient sparingly at first to test it out.
Although there are no specific ingredients that stearic acid doesn’t work well with, Petrillo recommends not using it with retinol or salicylic acid, which can cause irritation. It’s also not recommended for children, who can have a more sensitive skin reaction than adults.