Glyceryl Stearate: What Is It, Skin Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

This article was last updated on: May 10, 2023

Have you ever picked up a cosmetic product and tried to make sense of the ingredients listed on the label? It can feel like you’re reading a foreign language, with all those chemical names and technical terms. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and confused by the long list of unfamiliar components.

One such ingredient that you may have encountered is Glyceryl Stearate. While it might not be a household name, it is widely used in the cosmetic industry and can be found in various products.

In this article, we will delve into the world of Glyceryl Stearate, examining its properties, benefits, cosmetic uses, and potential side effects.

What is Glyceryl Stearate?

Glyceryl Stearate is a lipid compound derived from stearic acid and glycerol, two naturally occurring substances. It is also known by other names, such as glycerol monostearate, glyceryl monostearate, and glycerin monostearate. This ingredient is commonly used in cosmetics for its emollient, emulsifying, and skin-conditioning properties.

In cosmetics, Glyceryl Stearate works as an effective emulsifier, helping to blend water and oil-based ingredients into a stable mixture. This is particularly useful in creams, lotions, and other emulsions, ensuring a smooth and consistent texture. It also acts as an emollient, which means it softens and smooths the skin, helping to maintain its natural moisture balance.

Glyceryl Stearate is typically found as part of a wider formulation of ingredients in cosmetic products, rather than as a stand-alone ingredient. Its concentration can vary depending on the specific product and formulation, but it is generally used at concentrations between 1-5%.

Who Can Use Glyceryl Stearate?

Glyceryl Stearate is a versatile ingredient that is suitable for a variety of skin types. It is generally considered safe for use on normal, dry, oily, and combination skin. Its emollient and skin-conditioning properties make it a valuable addition to many cosmetic formulations, helping to improve their performance without causing irritation or harm.

As for vegans and vegetarians, the origin of Glyceryl Stearate is an essential factor to consider. While it can be derived from plant sources such as palm kernel, soybean, or vegetable oils, it can also be obtained from animal sources like beef tallow. To ensure that a product containing Glyceryl Stearate is suitable for vegans or vegetarians, it is important to check the label or consult with the manufacturer to verify the ingredient’s source.

Glyceryl Stearate Skin Benefits

Glyceryl Stearate offers several skin benefits:

  • Emollient properties: As an emollient, Glyceryl Stearate helps to soften and smooth the skin. It achieves this by creating a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, which locks in moisture and prevents water loss. This leads to better hydration, reduced dryness, and an overall improvement in the skin’s appearance and texture.
  • Skin conditioning: Glyceryl Stearate is known for its skin-conditioning properties. It helps to maintain the skin’s natural moisture balance, keeping it well-hydrated and healthy. This can lead to improved skin elasticity, reduced signs of aging, and a more youthful appearance.

It is important to note that the beneficial effects of Glyceryl Stearate are not permanent. In order to maintain these benefits, consistent use of products containing this ingredient is necessary.

Glyceryl Stearate’s Non-Active Cosmetic Uses

Glyceryl Stearate also offers several non-active cosmetic uses based on its official functions as a skin conditioning emollient and emulsifying surfactant. These uses contribute to the overall formulation and performance of cosmetic products without directly impacting the skin’s appearance or health. Here are the key non-active uses, explained in detail:

  • Texture enhancement: The emulsifying properties of Glyceryl Stearate contribute to the texture and consistency of cosmetic products. By effectively blending water and oil-based ingredients, it helps to create a smooth, even consistency in creams, lotions, and other emulsions. This makes the application of these products more enjoyable and user-friendly, ultimately enhancing the overall experience for the consumer.
  • Product stability: Glyceryl Stearate plays a crucial role in maintaining the stability of cosmetic formulations. Its emulsifying properties prevent the separation of oil and water-based ingredients, ensuring that the product remains homogeneous over time. This improves the product’s shelf life and maintains its effectiveness, ensuring that consumers receive a high-quality, reliable product.
  • Viscosity control: In addition to its emulsifying properties, Glyceryl Stearate also contributes to the viscosity control of cosmetic products. It can help to thicken or stabilize emulsions, providing the desired consistency and spreadability. This enables manufacturers to create products with a wide range of textures, catering to various consumer preferences and application needs.

These non-active uses of Glyceryl Stearate demonstrate its versatility and importance in cosmetic formulations, contributing to the overall performance and appeal of various products.

Glyceryl Stearate Potential Side Effects

It’s important to note that side effects and reactions to cosmetic ingredients, such as Glyceryl Stearate, can vary from person to person. This is because each individual has a unique skin type and sensitivities, which can influence how their skin reacts to certain ingredients. To better understand your skin type and its specific needs, you can refer to this article on how to find out your skin type.

Here are some potential side effects and interactions associated with Glyceryl Stearate:

  • Skin irritation: In rare cases, some individuals may experience skin irritation or redness when using products containing Glyceryl Stearate. This can occur if the individual has an allergy or sensitivity to the ingredient.
  • Contact dermatitis: Although uncommon, contact dermatitis can occur as a result of an allergic reaction to Glyceryl Stearate. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and inflammation of the skin.

If you experience any of these side effects while using a product containing Glyceryl Stearate, it is important to discontinue use immediately and consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist for guidance.

It’s worth noting that adverse reactions to Glyceryl Stearate are relatively rare, and generally speaking, the ingredient is considered safe and effective for use in cosmetic products.

To minimize the risk of adverse reactions, it’s essential to perform a patch test before incorporating any new cosmetic product into your routine. A patch testing guide can provide you with the necessary steps to ensure that the product is safe and suitable for your skin type.

Comedogenic Rating

Glyceryl Stearate has a comedogenic rating of 1-2, which means that it has a low likelihood of clogging pores and causing breakouts. This rating is based on its molecular structure and its ability to penetrate the skin. The low comedogenic rating makes Glyceryl Stearate suitable for most skin types, including those that are acne-prone or sensitive to pore-clogging ingredients.


Achieving success in skincare often involves a process of experimentation and trial and error. Each individual’s skin type and needs are unique, making it essential to explore various ingredients and products to find the perfect match.

Glyceryl Stearate is an ingredient that offers both active and non-active benefits. It actively benefits the skin by providing emollient and skin conditioning properties, while also contributing to the overall texture, stability, and performance of cosmetic products through its non-active effects.

While Glyceryl Stearate may not be a widely recognized ingredient, its versatile properties, and low comedogenic rating make it a valuable addition to many cosmetic formulations. Its ability to improve product performance and provide skin benefits demonstrates that Glyceryl Stearate is an ingredient worth considering when seeking to enhance your skincare routine.

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