Peg-10 Soy Sterol: What Is It, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: December 1, 2023
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Have you ever found yourself scrutinizing the ingredients list on your favorite cosmetic product, only to be confronted by a jumble of scientific terms that seem almost alien?

One such ingredient that frequently appears on these lists is Peg-10 Soy Sterol. Despite its prevalence, many of us are unfamiliar with what this ingredient actually is, or why it’s used in our lotions, creams, and other beauty products.

This article will demystify Peg-10 Soy Sterol, offering a clear and comprehensive understanding of this compound. We’ll delve into its nature, exploring its properties and the reasons behind its widespread use in cosmetic formulations!

What is Peg-10 Soy Sterol?

Peg-10 Soy Sterol is a specialized ingredient commonly found in cosmetic products. It’s known by other names too, such as Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol Ethoxylate. This ingredient is derived from soybean oil, specifically from the sterols which are a class of compounds naturally present in plants.

The production process involves the ethoxylation of soy sterols, which means that the sterol is chemically reacted with ethylene oxide. The ’10’ in Peg-10 indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units that are attached. This process enhances the ingredient’s solubility and effectiveness in cosmetic formulations.

Peg-10 Soy Sterol primarily serves as a surfactant and emulsifying agent. In simpler terms, it helps to mix oil and water-based ingredients, ensuring a stable and uniform texture in products like creams and lotions. Its role is to improve the consistency and feel of a product, making it more appealing and effective in its application.

The concentration of Peg-10 Soy Sterol in cosmetic products varies but is generally used in moderate amounts (0.1-3%).

Who Can Use Peg-10 Soy Sterol?

Peg-10 Soy Sterol is a versatile ingredient suitable for a variety of skin types. Its gentle nature makes it appropriate for those with sensitive skin, as it helps to create mild and non-irritating cosmetic formulations. However, as with any cosmetic ingredient, individual skin responses can vary.

This ingredient is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Since it’s derived from soybeans, a plant-based source, it aligns well with vegetarian and vegan preferences. The production process of Peg-10 Soy Sterol does not involve animal-derived ingredients, making it a favored choice in vegan-friendly cosmetic products.

Regarding its use by pregnant or breastfeeding women, there are no specific contraindications. However, as with any cosmetic ingredient, it’s always recommended that individuals in these categories consult with a healthcare provider before introducing new products into their skincare routine. This precaution ensures that they are making the best choice for their health and the health of their baby.

Peg-10 Soy Sterol’s Cosmetic Uses

Peg-10 Soy Sterol is categorized as a non-active ingredient in cosmetic formulations. This designation means it doesn’t directly contribute to the primary purpose of the product, like anti-aging or moisturizing, but instead plays a crucial role in the overall formulation, affecting the product’s texture, stability, and application.

The uses of Peg-10 Soy Sterol in cosmetics are varied and stem from its official function as a surfactant and emulsifying agent:

  • Emulsification: Peg-10 Soy Sterol acts as a bridge between oil and water components in a cosmetic product. By reducing the surface tension between these two phases, it helps to form and maintain a stable emulsion. This is crucial in products like lotions and creams, where oil and water components need to remain mixed for the product to be effective and have a pleasant texture.
  • Enhancing Product Texture and Feel: This ingredient contributes to the smooth, creamy texture of cosmetic products. It helps in evenly distributing the product when applied to the skin, providing a luxurious, non-greasy feel. The presence of Peg-10 Soy Sterol means that products can be spread easily and evenly, enhancing user experience.
  • Improving Product Stability: Stability in cosmetic products is key to ensuring that they perform as intended over time. Peg-10 Soy Sterol helps maintain the consistency and efficacy of a product throughout its shelf life. By keeping the emulsion stable, it prevents the separation of ingredients, ensuring the product remains effective and safe to use for a longer period.

Each of these benefits is rooted in the intrinsic properties of Peg-10 Soy Sterol, particularly its ability to act as a surfactant and emulsifier, which are essential for the creation of many cosmetic products.

Peg-10 Soy Sterol Potential Side Effects

While Peg-10 Soy Sterol is generally considered safe for use in cosmetics, reactions to this ingredient can vary from person to person. This variability is often due to individual differences in skin type, sensitivities, and allergies. Factors like skin type, whether it’s oily, dry, sensitive, or a combination, can influence how a person’s skin reacts to certain ingredients.

Potential side effects of Peg-10 Soy Sterol include:

  • Skin Irritation: In some rare cases, this ingredient might cause redness or irritation, especially in individuals with very sensitive skin.
  • Allergic Reactions: Though uncommon, some individuals may experience allergic reactions, such as itching or rash, if they have a specific sensitivity to soy or related compounds.
  • Acne Breakouts: For those with acne-prone skin, there could be instances where Peg-10 Soy Sterol might contribute to clogged pores or breakouts, though this is not a common occurrence.

If someone experiences any of these side effects while using a product containing Peg-10 Soy Sterol, it’s advisable to discontinue use immediately and consult a dermatologist or healthcare provider. They can provide guidance and help determine whether the reaction is indeed due to Peg-10 Soy Sterol or another ingredient in the product.

It’s important to note that adverse reactions to Peg-10 Soy Sterol are rare. In general, this ingredient is recognized as safe and effective for use in cosmetic products. However, as with any cosmetic ingredient, there is always the possibility of a reaction, especially in those with specific sensitivities or allergies.

To minimize the risk of adverse reactions, the importance of patch testing cannot be overstated. Before using a new product containing Peg-10 Soy Sterol, or any new ingredient, performing a patch test can help identify any potential skin reactions. For a detailed guide on how to conduct a patch test, refer to our patch testing guide – this simple step can be crucial in ensuring the suitability of a product for your skin, helping to avoid unwanted reactions.

Comedogenic Rating

Peg-10 Soy Sterol is assigned a comedogenic rating of 2 on a scale from 0 to 5, where 0 indicates non-comedogenic and 5 signifies a high likelihood of clogging pores.

This rating is based on its formulation and chemical structure. While Peg-10 Soy Sterol is not highly comedogenic, it may have some potential to clog pores, particularly in those with acne-prone skin; therefore, those individuals should use products containing this ingredient with a degree of caution.


Not all ingredients in personal care products are designed to deliver immediate, visible results. Some, like Peg-10 Soy Sterol, serve as supportive players in the overall formulation. As a non-active ingredient, its primary role is to enhance the product’s texture, stability, and efficacy, contributing to a better user experience rather than directly impacting the skin’s health or appearance.

Peg-10 Soy Sterol is a beneficial ingredient, mainly due to its emulsifying and surfactant properties. It helps in creating smooth, stable cosmetic products, which is essential for both the feel and performance of these products. While it may not be as well-known or as popular as some active ingredients, its utility in formulations is significant and is a fairly common ingredient in many cosmetic products.

For those concerned about incorporating Peg-10 Soy Sterol into their skincare routine, it’s reassuring to know that it is generally considered safe and effective. Its mild nature makes it suitable for a range of skin types, though individuals with specific skin concerns, particularly those prone to acne, might exercise caution due to its moderate comedogenic rating. As with any ingredient, understanding your skin’s needs and reactions is key to choosing the right products.

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