|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”.|
|Appearance||Pale yellow liquid|
|Texture||Smooth semi-viscous liquid|
|Scent||Nothing strong; a bit “chemically”|
|pH||6–8 (5% aqueous solution)|
|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
- Soothing Cleansing Balm
- Candy Corn Bath Bombs
- Sea Buckthorn and Charcoal Cleansing Balm
- Eucalyptus Mint Soft Cleansing Balm
- Vinolia Lemon Rose Bath Bombs
- Lavender Spruce Bath Bombs
- Ginger Oak Moss Cleansing Balm Stick
- Snowflake Emulsified Scrub Nuggets
Thank you to Zack for helping with this entry!