What is it? Polysorbate 80 is a solubilizer; we use it to disperse oils into otherwise watery concoctions. Compared to Polysorbate 20 it is better suited to solubilizing true oils. It is sometimes referred to as “Tween 80”.
INCI Polysorbate 80
Appearance Pale yellow liquid
Usage rate 1–20%
Texture Smooth semi-viscous liquid
Scent Nothing strong; a bit “chemically”
pH 6–8 (5% aqueous solution)
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Water & oil
Why do we use it in recipes? In watery concoctions like room sprays, body sprays, and hand washes polysorbate 80 is used to disperse oils evenly so they don’t separate out.

In oil-based products like cleansing oils and cleansing balms polysorbate 80 adds cleansing power and boosts rinse-off.

In bath and body products it is used to ensure the oil in the product disperses into the bath rather than pooling on the top of the bath water, presenting a slipping hazard. The dispersion is also important for essential oils to ensure they are well diluted in the bath water rather that floating in a concentrated blob on the surface.

Do you need it? It isn’t essential, but it is the most cost effective solubilizer option.
Strengths Inexpensive and effective.
Weaknesses It can have a tacky/sticky skin feel that comes through in finished products.
Alternatives & Substitutions Check out this page to learn more about making solubilizer substitutions.

You cannot Polysorbate 80 instead of a complete emulsifying wax, and you cannot use a complete emulsifying wax in place of Polysorbate 80.

You cannot use a liquid surfactant in place of Polysorbate 80, and Polysorbate 80 is not a good alternative for a liquid surfactant.

How to Work with It Mix the Polysorbate 80 with the oil phase before gently whisking it into the water phase.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Polysorbate 80 should last at least 2 years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks It can cause some foaming in your products but it isn’t a surfactant and cannot be used in place of surfactants in recipes.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Polysorbate 80

Thank you to Zack for helping with this entry!

Skills

Posted on

November 23, 2018

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