Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate: What Is It, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

This article was last updated on: June 12, 2023

Imagine standing in the skincare aisle, armed with a master list of must-try products in hand. You pluck a bottle off the shelf, flip it over, and almost instantly, your eyes begin to glaze over the unfamiliar terms on the ingredient list. Deciphering the cryptic language of cosmetic ingredients can be a daunting task, especially when faced with seemingly nonsensical terms such as Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate.

With a name like that, this mysterious substance appears more like a secret code than a beneficial skincare ingredient. But fear not, because today, we’re diving deep into the world of Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate. Throughout this article, we will unlock the secrets of this multifaceted component and discuss its importance in the realm of cosmetics.

What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate?

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, also known as Sodium 2-stearoyllactate or simply SSL, is a natural and versatile ingredient commonly used in cosmetic products for its excellent emulsifying and surfactant properties. Derived from the combination of lactic acid and stearic acid, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate enables oil and water-based ingredients to mix and create a uniform texture in various formulations. Its general purpose is to improve the stability and appearance of products such as creams, lotions, and cleansers.

Though Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate can be purchased as a standalone ingredient, it is more often found as a constituent in broader cosmetic formulations. Its use is typically regulated within specific concentration limits, as outlined by relevant governing bodies.

Who Can Use Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate?

The good news is that Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is suitable for a wide range of skin types, including those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. Its natural origins make it a gentle and effective ingredient, often compatible with various skin conditions. However, it’s essential to consult with a dermatologist or a medical professional to determine if Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is the right fit for your individual skin type.

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you’ll be pleased to learn that Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is indeed plant-based. It is derived from vegetable sources in a process that doesn’t involve animal-derived components or byproducts. Consequently, it’s an ingredient that aligns well with vegan and vegetarian principles.

As for pregnant and breastfeeding women, while Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is considered safe in general, it’s always wise to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating new ingredients or products into your skincare routine during pregnancy or breastfeeding. This precaution ensures that you’re making the best choices for both your skin and your baby’s well-being.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate’s Cosmetic Uses

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is prized for a variety of uses within the cosmetic industry, thanks to its unique properties. Its official function as a surfactant and emulsifying agent paves the way for numerous advantages in personal care formulations. Here are some key benefits of Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate:

  • Improves product texture and consistency: As an emulsifying agent, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate ensures that water-based and oil-based ingredients blend seamlessly together, creating a smooth and stable product. Formulations that contain Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate typically offer a luxurious, velvety texture and maintain their consistency over time. This enhances the user experience, making products more enjoyable and easy to apply.
  • Supports spreadability: The surfactant qualities of Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate help to enhance the spreadability and uniform application of cosmetic products. It works by reducing the surface tension of liquids, enabling them to cover a larger area and adhere to the skin more effectively.

Overall, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate contributes significantly to the cosmetic industry, offering a host of benefits that elevate the efficacy and user experience of various products. With its versatility and unique properties, this ingredient is a standout in the world of cosmetics.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Potential Side Effects

It is essential to note that side effects and reactions to Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, like any other ingredient, can vary from person to person. This variation in reaction depends on an individual’s skin type, sensitivities, and potential allergies. It is crucial to find your skin type and consult with a dermatologist or skincare expert to ascertain if a particular ingredient is suitable for you.

Here are some potential side effects of Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate:

  • Skin irritation: While rare, some people may experience redness, dryness, stinging, or itching due to Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, especially if they have extremely sensitive skin or a specific allergy to the ingredient.
  • Allergic reaction: In very rare cases, an individual may develop an allergic reaction to Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, which could manifest as hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, discontinue use immediately and consult a medical professional.

If you experience any of these side effects while using Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate or a product containing it, discontinue use and consult with a dermatologist to determine the cause of the reaction and the best course of action for your skin. Keep in mind that adverse reactions to Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate are rare, and this ingredient is generally regarded as safe and effective.

The importance of patch testing cannot be overstated when it comes to using cosmetic products, as it helps identify any potential sensitivity to a new ingredient before incorporating it into your skincare routine. Follow a comprehensive patch testing guide and observe the results to ensure a safe and personalized skincare experience.

Comedogenic Rating

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate has a comedogenic rating of 1, which indicates that it has a very low likelihood of clogging pores and causing breakouts. This low rating is attributed to its molecular structure and emulsifying properties, which allow it to effectively blend with other ingredients in cosmetic formulations without leaving residue or heaviness on the skin. As a result, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is generally considered to be suitable for those who are prone to acne breakouts or have oily skin types.


While not every ingredient in personal care products, such as skincare, has an immediate, noticeable impact, there are supporting ingredients like Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate that play a vital role in enhancing the overall formulation and performance. As a non-active ingredient, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate functions primarily to maintain product stability, texture, and efficacy by serving as a surfactant and emulsifier.

Although Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate may not have garnered significant attention or popularity in the beauty world, its inclusion in cosmetic formulations is essential for ensuring a harmonious blend of ingredients and the desired textural outcome.

Summing up, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is a multifaceted and valuable ingredient that helps elevate cosmetic products’ effectiveness and user experience, playing a crucial yet understated role in numerous skincare formulations. Its low comedogenic rating and broad compatibility with various skin types make it a reliable choice for many product formulations in the personal care industry.

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