Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate

What is it? Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is a very versatile non-ionic oil-in-water emulsifier that creates silky smooth, ultra-light emulsions. Most datasheets I’ve seen state the content of each Glyceryl Stearate and PEG-100 Stearate as 48–52%, which averages out to a 50/50 blend, though check the datasheet from your supplier for the particular one you have.

This emulsifier is manufactured by a lot of different companies, so it ends up having a lot of different names, including (but not limited to):

  • Arlacel™ 165 (Croda)
  • Radia 7490 (Oleon)
  • Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (Solvay Novecare)
  • CreamMaker Blend (MakingCosmetics)
  • HallStar® GMS SE/AS (Hallstar)
  • Lexemul® 561 MB (INOLEX)
  • Lonzest™ MSA Glyceryl Stearate (Lonza)
  • SIMULSOL™ 165 (SEPPIC)
  • TEGO® Care 165 (Evonik Operations GmbH)
  • iEmul 165 (Polybase 165) (Cosphatech LLC)
  • LotionPro 165 (Lotion Crafter)

Because there are so many different manufacturers of this blend of ingredients it’s important you get specific information for the ingredient you’re using from your supplier as there may be variations between products.

INCI Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate
Appearance I’ve only seen it as brittle white flakes, but some manufacturers sell it as a powder or in pellets.
Usage rate 1–25%, depending on the use. SEPPIC lists 5% for a fluid lotion, 10% for lotion, 15% for a thick lotion, 20% for a fluid cream, and 25% for a thick cream.
Texture Brittle, hard; weightless in emulsions.
Scent Nothing noticeable
Absorbency Speed Very light
Approximate Melting Point 50–60°C (122–140°F)
pH 5.5–7 (3 % solution); tolerates a final pH range of approximately 4–9.
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is a very effective and crazy versatile emulsifier. It can be used to create everything from sprayable milks to ultra-thick emulsified body butters, and everything in between!

Unlike emulsifying waxes like Polawax, Emulsifying Wax NF, Olivem 1000, and Ritamulse SCG, Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate does not substantially thicken emulsions, even in emulsions with very large oil phases. It is also substantially more stable in very thin emulsions.

For example, let’s imagine we have four different emulsions; 2 emulsified with Polawax, and 2 emulsified with Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate. One of each emulsifier has a 15% oil phase, and the other two have a 30% oil phase—the only ingredients in the oil phase are a liquid oil and the emulsifier. There are no added thickeners, like gums or fatty alcohols (cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, etc.)

The Polawax emulsions will have drastically different viscosities. The 15% one will be fairly thin, but still lotion-y. It would work well in a pump-top bottle, or possibly even a bottle with a treatment pump cap. The 30% one will be more like a cream; thick and rich, and much better suited to a jar or tub.

The Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate emulsions will have very similar viscosities. The 15% one will be about the consistency of partly skimmed milk, while the 30% one will be more like cream. The 30% one is more viscous because the inner phase (the oil phase) is larger, but that viscosity difference is pretty small—especially when compared to differing phase sizes in an emulsion made with Polawax. Both Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate emulsions could be packaged in a spray bottle, and are far too thin for any sort of pump bottle or jar.

Because Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate does not thicken emulsions, it gives us the ability to control the viscosity and oil phase size independently. For instance, you can create an emulsion with a 50% oil phase and decide if you want it to be a thinner, pumpable lotion or a thick, solid cream. You can also choose what you want to thicken it with, allowing you significantly more control over the skin feel of the finished product. With an emulsifying wax like Polawax, that product could only be solid, and the skin feel will be harder to adjust given the unavoidable presence of the thickeners in Polawax.

Additionally, because Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate doesn’t add viscosity to our emulsions, it has the ability to create far lighter feeling emulsions—in that way, it’s almost ‘invisible’ in your formulations. If you want to add the fluffy creaminess and weight of cetearyl alcohol, you’ll have to add it yourself—if you used Emulsifying Wax NF instead, that already contains 65–80% cetearyl alcohol, so you can’t avoid it.

Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate also works at lower rates than more common emulsifying waxes. Compared to Emulsifying Wax NF, Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate contains a higher percentage of the emulsifying ingredient. Emulsifying Wax NF contains 20–35% Polysorbate 60, while Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate contains approximately 50% PEG-100 Stearate. I’ve seen (and successfully used) Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate at 9–17% of the oil phase, compared to 20–25% for emulsifying waxes like Polawax, Emulsifying Wax NF, Olivem 1000, and Ritamulse SCG.

Do you need it? I highly recommend it if you love making lotions—it gives you far more control over your emulsions than emulsifying waxes like Polawax and Ritamulse SCG.
Refined or unrefined? Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate only exists as a refined product.
Strengths It’s extremely versatile, allowing you to independently adjust the viscosity and oil phase size of your formulations. It easily creates stable emulsions at low usage rates and works brilliantly over a wide variety of oil phase sizes. It’s lightweight, inexpensive, and very effective.
Weaknesses It isn’t considered natural; that doesn’t bother me as it is a perfectly safe ingredient, but I can’t offer a suitable naturally-accepted alternative at this time.
Alternatives & Substitutions Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is a tricky ingredient to substitute out. Generally speaking, you’ll need another complete emulsifying wax (something like Emulsifying Wax NF or Olivem 1000), but those complete emulsifying waxes contribute significantly more thickening to finished products, meaning formulations designed to work with Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate will likely be significantly more viscous if you use a thickening emulsifying wax in its place. Depending on the formulation you may be able to adequately compensate by removing any additional fatty thickeners, but this will take some experimenting to get right.

If the formulation is for an ultra-light body milk or a very thick emulsified body butter type project, it will be difficult to substitute the emulsifier. You will likely be in re-formulation territory, or you will need to accept a more viscous and/or waxier/heavier end product.

How to Work with It Include Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in your heated oil phase.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is different from Glyceryl Stearate SE, though both are emulsifiers.

The Body Shop uses Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate to emulsify their signature body butters!

Recommended starter amount 100g (3.5oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. In the USA you can purchase it from Making Cosmetics and Lotion Crafter. In Canada, you can purchase it from Windy Point Soap Making Supplies. In the UK and EU, you can purchase it from Mystic Moments. In Australia, N Essentials has it.

Some Recipes that Use Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate

Glyceryl Stearate SE

What is it? Glyceryl Stearate SE is made from vegetable glycerin and stearic acid, with a small amount of sodium stearate or potassium stearate present as the emulsifying element.
INCI Glyceryl Stearate SE
Appearance Flat white flakes or small white granules
Usage rate 1–10%
Texture Smooth, hard
Scent Nothing much
Approximate Melting Point 55°C (130°F)
Charge Anionic
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? Glyceryl Stearate SE is an emulsifier and is used to bring together oil and water.
Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? Glyceryl Stearate SE only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Glyceryl Stearate SE has the potential to be palm free, depending on the sources for the glycerin and stearic acid (both can come from palm oil but don’t have to).
Weaknesses I find it needs more stabilizing ingredients than emulsifying waxes like Polawax and Olivem 1000.
Alternatives & Substitutions Polawax works well; you could likely use most complete emulsifying waxes as an alternative to Glyceryl Stearate SE.
How to Work with It Include Glyceryl Stearate SE in the heated oil phase of your formulations.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry,
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Glyceryl Stearate SE is not the same thing as Glyceryl Stearate and they should not be used for one another.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.5oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Glyceryl Stearate SE

Varisoft® EQ 65 (Distearoylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol)

What is it? Varisoft® EQ 65 is a natural, biodegradeable cationic emulsifier/surfactant. It is both ECOcert and COSMOS certified. It contains approximately 65% active matter.
INCI Distearoylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol
Appearance White/slightly off-white pellets
Usage rate 1–10%
Scent A bit fishy
Approximate Melting Point 80°C (176°F)
pH 3.0–6.0 (5% solution)
Charge Positive
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? Varisoft® EQ 65 gives our products “conditioning” power (slip, improved comb-through & detangling, improved hair feel), though not as much as less natural alternatives like BTMS-50 and behentrimonium chloride (BTMC). It also functions as a complete emulsifying wax.
Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? Varisoft® EQ 65 only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Natural, relatively easy to use cationic emulsifier/surfactant.
Weaknesses I find it does not perform as well as less natural alternatives like BTMS-50 and behentrimonium chloride (BTMC).
Alternatives & Substitutions You’ll need to use something else that is both a complete emulsifying wax and conditioning/cationic. BTMS-50 would be a good, easy alternative. Behentrimonium Chloride (BTMC) can be a good alternative; pure BTMC does not contain any stabilizing ingredients so if a recipe calls for 5% Varisoft® EQ 65 I would recommend using 3% each BTMC and 2% cetearyl alcohol. The maxiumum recommended usage rate for BTMC is 3%.

Non-cationic emulsifying waxes (Polawax, Emulsifying Wax NF, Olivem 1000, Ritamulse, etc.) are not good alternatives for Varisoft® EQ 65 as they are not going to bring that conditioning element to your formulation. They’ll emulsify the product, but that’s it. This is likely not going to ruin the product, but it will definitely negatively impact the performance. If it’s a hair conditioner you will definitely notice a decline in detangling and the silkiness of the hair. If it’s a conditioning body butter, there’s really no reason to use something Polawax in place of the Varisoft® EQ 65; the Varisoft® EQ 65 was included primarily for the conditioning element, not the emulsifying element, so using a non-cationic emulsifying wax in its place is somewhat useless. In an anhydrous application I’d probably try replacing Varisoft® EQ 65 with 50% cetyl or cetearyl alcohol and 50% soft or liquid oil (more of whatever is in the recipe). That will likely require some tweaking for proper consistency, though. You would likely be better off looking for a body butter recipe that doesn’t use Varisoft® EQ 65.

You could try incorporating a different cationic ingredient like a polyquaternarium into your formulation to replace the conditioning part of the Varisoft® EQ 65, and then using a non-cationic emulsifying wax. You will need to watch solubility and usage rates, though.

How to Work with It Include Varisoft® EQ 65 in the heated oil phase of your concoctions; I find it typically does not fully melt in water baths, so I usually have to finish melting my oil phase in the microwave.

The pH of the final product needs to be below 5 as Varisoft® EQ 65 breaks down in higher pH environments. General recommendations for final products are in the 4–4.5 range.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Varisoft® EQ 65 should last at least one year.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks I find Varisoft® EQ 65 creates funny little transparent pellet blobs when I try to melt it in a water bath.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.5oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier.

Some Recipes that Use Varisoft® EQ 65

PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil

What is it? PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil is a water soluble soft-solid solubilizer/oil-in-water emulsifier.
INCI PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
Appearance Beige unctuous, solid paste
Usage rate 1–10%
Texture Thick, sticky, smooth paste
Scent Characteristic
Absorbency Speed Slow
Approximate Melting Point 30°C
pH 5.5–7 (3% in water)
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Miscible in both water and oils
Why do we use it in formulations? PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil can function as a co-emulsifier (oil-in-water) and solubilizer. It can also contribute thickening and texture to our products. I’ve used it in body oils to give them a bit of added viscosity and allow the oil to self-solubilize with any water on the skin. PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil is also a popular ingredient in hair pomades.
Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Good solubilizer and thickener. Very versatile.
Weaknesses Not natural, not always widely available.
Alternatives & Substitutions You’d need a different PEG hydrogenated oil to get both the water solubility and the thickening. You can try splitting out the PEG part (Olivem 300, polysorbate 80) and the thickening part (a soft butter, perhaps?) to get both parts from two ingredients.
How to Work with It Include it in the heated oil phase. It doesn’t strictly need to be melted to work with it, but that does make things easier.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil should last about two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil has the coolest stringy-gooey consistency!
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.3oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil

Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex AVC)

What is it? Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex® AVC) is a gelling agent and oil-in-water pseudo-emulsifier (according to the manufacturer it can stabilize up to 15% hydrophobic ingredients). It can be used to quickly create lightweight gel-creams. It is a synthetic polymer. Unlike some other gelling agents, it is pre-neutralized and does not need to be pH adjusted.

Clariant (the manufacturer) productes an entire line of Aristoflex® products; the “AVC” distinction is important! The AVC variety is marketed as the most versatile of the line.

INCI Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer
Appearance Fine white powder
Usage rate 0.5–2%
Texture Creates silky smooth gels.
Scent Nothing noticeable.
pH 4–6 (1% in distilled water)
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? I primarily use it to create lightweight gels with small amounts of pseudo-emulsified oils.

It can also be used as a co-thickener/emulsion stabilizer in products containing other primary emulsifying/thickening ingredients, and to gel concoctions that contain high concentrations (upwards of 50%) of ethanol.

Do you need it? No, but it is wonderfully fun and very useful for certain types of projects.
Refined or unrefined? Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex® AVC) only exists as a refined product.
Strengths  Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex® AVC) quickly creates beautiful gels. It can also create “pseduo-emulsions” by stabilizing non-water-soluble ingredients (oils, silicones) into an otherwise aqueous formula. Clariant (the manufacturer) says “the stabilizing effect of Aristoflex® AVC is explained by the cross-linked structure of the polymer, providing a yield value and thus ‘trapping’ the oil droplets or solids (e.g. pigments) in the water/polymer matrix.”
Weaknesses Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex® AVC) does not play well with electrolytes—you’ll notice an immediate loss of viscosity as soon as electrolytes are added. Avoid ingredients including electrolytes like aloe vera, sodium lactate, salt, and urea. If your end product is significantly thinner than expected, double-check the ingredients for anything containing electrolytes.
Alternatives & Substitutions At this time I can’t suggest anything terribly suitable. You could try using a different gelling agent like hydroxyethylcellulose for the gelling job, and then incorporating a solubilizer like Cromollient SCE for the emulsifying/stabilizing part. This sort of two-part alternative will require you to at least partially re-develop and re-test the formula.
How to Work with It Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex® AVC) can be hot or cold processed. It can be pre-dispersed in the oil phase (as you would a gum) before blending in the water phase with a high shear mixer. I’ve also had good results mixing together all the other ingredients in the recipe before sprinkling the Aristoflex® AVC over the surface of the mixture and blending that together with a high shear mixer.

Keep the pH of the final product in the 4–9 range. A pH above 9 will release ammonia.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Aristoflex® AVC should last up to three years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks For clear gels, use at least 1% Aristoflex® AVC, or include ~5% glycerin or other solvent. Distilled or de-ionized water will give the best results.
Recommended starter amount 30g/1 ounce
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. So far I’ve found it at Windy Point Soap Making Supplies (Canada) and LotionCrafter (USA).

Some Recipes that Use Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex® AVC)

BTMS-25

What is it? BTMS-25 is a cationic (positively charged) emulsifying wax. Because it’s cationic it is also “conditioning”—it adsorbs (creates a very fine coating) on skin and hair, giving an amazing finish that is unique to cationic ingredients. It contains 25% of the active ingredient, Behentrimonium Methosulfate (compared to BTMS-50, which contains 50%). I find BTMS-25 makes thicker/firmer products than BTMS-50 due to the higher concentration of a hardening/thickening ingredient.
INCI Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol
Appearance Small white waxy beads
Usage rate 1–10% of the overall product; ~25% of the oil phase to emulsify.
Scent Can be a bit fishy, but this usually doesn’t come through in finished products if used below 10–15%.
Approximate Melting Point 60°C (140°F)
pH 5–7 (2% solution)
Charge Cationic (positive)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in formulations? It gives our products the most luxurious, wonderful skin feel and leaves hair feeling stunning—easy to comb through and all kinds of silky. It also functions as a complete emulsifying wax, and offers noticeable thickening.
Do you need it? If you want to make hair care products you’ll want a conditioning emulsifying wax—I tend to prefer BTMS-50 as it is more potent, but if you can’t get 50, 25 is a decent alternative. It is also wonderful as the emulsifier in lotions and as a conditioning add-in for body butters and balms!
Strengths Great conditioning skin and hair feel. Depending on where you live it may be easier to get than BTMS-50.
Weaknesses It’s more expensive than most non-cationic emulsifying waxes, and if you use a lot of it (more than 10%+) it can make your products smell a bit fishy.
Alternatives & Substitutions You’ll need to use something else that is both a complete emulsifying wax and conditioning/cationic. BTMS-50 is also a cationic emulsifying wax, but it contains twice the amount of active as BTMS-25, so you might want to consider using less. Behentrimonium Chloride (BTMC) can be a good alternative; pure BTMC does not contain any stabilizing ingredients so if a recipe calls for 5% BTMS-25 I would recommend using 1.25% BTMC and 3.75% cetearyl alcohol. The maxiumum recommended usage rate for BTMC is 3%.

You can also look at alternatives like Varisoft EQ 65 and Emulsense HC, but be sure to familiarize yourself with the formulation requirements for those options as they can have quite narrow effective pH ranges and other requirements. I also find they are not as potent as BTMS.

Non-cationic emulsifying waxes (Polawax, Emulsifying Wax NF, Olivem 1000, Ritamulse, etc.) are not good alternatives for BTMS-25 as they are not going to bring that conditioning element to your formulation. They’ll emulsify the product, but that’s it. This is likely not going to ruin the product, but it will definitely negatively impact the performance. If it’s a hair conditioner you will definitely notice a decline in detangling and the silkiness of the hair. If it’s a conditioning body butter, there’s really no reason to use something Polawax in place of the BTMS-25; the BTMS-25 was included primarily for the conditioning element, not the emulsifying element, so using a non-cationic emulsifying wax in its place is somewhat useless. In an anhydrous application I’d probably try replacing BTMS with 50% cetyl or cetearyl alcohol and 50% soft or liquid oil (more of whatever is in the recipe). That will likely require some tweaking for proper consistency, though. You would likely be better off looking for a body butter recipe that doesn’t use BTMS.

You could try incorporating a different cationic ingredient like a polyquaternarium into your formulation to replace the conditioning part of the BTMS-25, and then using a non-cationic emulsifying wax. You will need to watch solubility and usage rates, though.

How to Work with It Melt in the heated oil phase.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, BTMS-25 is very shelf stable. I’ve had some for upwards of three years that hasn’t changed at all.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks I find BTMS-25 can be a bit stubborn about melting in a water bath, so you might need to give your heated oil phase a quick burst in the microwave to get it to melt fully.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.3oz)
Where to Buy it Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. In Canada you can get it from Voyageur, in the USA you can get it from Lotion Crafter.

Some Recipes that Use BTMS-25

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