You’ve probably already used a product containing stearic acid without even realizing it. There are many benefits of stearic acid and it is not a worrying product at all. In fact, it’s the proverbial “unicorn” of the skincare industry, being utilized often in formulations but also providing actual benefits to the skin. Given that most skincare chemicals are either active (they really do something) or inert (they don’t contribute anything to the product itself), this is quite an accomplishment. In this post, we’ll discover the benefits of stearic acid for skin.

What Is Stearic Acid?

The 18-carbon saturated fatty acid stearic acid has several applications in the beauty and skincare industries. The major functions of stearic acid in this product are to strengthen the fragrance and enhance the texture and spreadability. One additional advantage of stearic acid is that it aids in increasing the skin’s natural hydration.

Stearic acid, or octadecanoic acid, is a fatty acid that may be synthesized from either animal fats or vegetable oils. Animal fat may contain as much as 30% stearic acid, whereas vegetable fat has less than 5%. If the stearic acid is extracted from cocoa or shea butter, which contain 28 and 45% stearic acid, respectively, they may be used as a vegan component.

Benefits of Stearic Acid for Skin

As previously mentioned, stearic acid is often utilized only for product formulation purposes; nevertheless, it has some distinct skincare advantages even when taken alone.

  • It helps smooth rough patches on the skin There are three main moisturizing ingredients: humectants, emollients, and occlusives. Stearic acid’s emollient properties help it soothe and calm skin irritations. As a result, it’s often added to products so that they have a more moisturizing effect.
  • However, stearic acid does more than only reinforce the skin’s natural barrier. It’s a vital part of the skin’s protective barrier, the outermost layer that keeps in moisture and keeps out allergens. The skin cells that make up the barrier are like bricks, while stearic acid, along with other substances like cholesterol and ceramides, is like mortar, necessary for keeping the bricks firmly affixed to one another and preventing the formation of fissures. Consequently, stearic acid may assist in improving the skin’s protective barrier function.
  • Strengthening the skin’s barrier, stearic acid defends against water loss and even helps lessen the effects of aging.
  • A stearic acid is a fantastic option for people with sensitive or irritated skin, and it may even help lessen the flaking and itching of psoriasis.
  • Cleansing the skin is when things start to get interesting. Stearic acid is one of a kind among emollients since it also functions as a surfactant or a component that helps wash the skin, as noted by Madfes. It aids in the removal of oil, water, and grime from the skin’s surface by binding them together.
  • Leaves skin’s natural oils alone: It cleans effectively without removing your natural oils, unlike other surfactants (cough, sulfates). In addition to providing all of the aforementioned moisturizing benefits, this cleanser is mild enough for sensitive skin without being irritating, making it an excellent choice for individuals with damaged skin who want to avoid additional drying.
  • Boosts product distribution: It bears repeating that stearic acid’s primary application is as an emulsifier in cosmetic and skin care formulations. It’s being considered by several in the cosmetics industry as a way to improve the products’ luxury feel and spreadability.
  • It helps maintain consistency and prevents final compositions from splitting while imparting that silky smooth feel we all enjoy.

Is stearic acid a natural ingredient?

Yes, which is why it’s used in lieu of chemical components in many natural skin care and cosmetic products.

Natural sources of SA include select vegetables that also contain fat/oil and animal fat, particularly hog fat. In order to separate and extract stearic acid, these sources are heated and under pressure.

After that, it undergoes a process that includes distillation, steaming, and chilling to produce a concentrated SA end product, which is often a waxy material.

A few supplements also include it, such as magnesium stearate, which combines stearic acid with the mineral magnesium.

Commercially hydrogenated fats are present in packaged foods and are associated to a number of health issues, therefore consuming them is not advised. However, SA is also used to make these fats.

Side Effects of Stearic Acid

Stearic acid is generally well tolerated by all skin types, according to all of the specialists we talked with. Despite this, every substance has the potential to cause an allergy or adverse response. So, in addition to the benefits of stearic acid, it can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

How to Use Stearic Acid?

You may be surprised to learn that stearic acid isn’t a substance you should actively seek out after hearing our experts extol its virtues. Stearic acid is mostly used in products for formulation purposes; any skincare advantages are an added bonus. It’s a naturally occurring component of other components that you presumably look for, including cocoa and shea butters, as was already explained. If you’re looking for it explicitly, you can usually find it in face and body cleansers, creams, and lotions (credit those surfactant properties we talked about). Additionally, it could appear in more recent retinol oil formulations. Since it is a fatty acid, it interacts well with other lipids (the oils) and also helps to improve the skin barrier, which helps prevent the possible drying and irritating side effects of retinol.

The main line is that because stearic acid is probably already present in at least some of the skincare products you use, you don’t need to look for it. And that’s a wonderful thing; there is no cause for alarm.

The Best Products With Stearic Acid

1.Elemis Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen Night Genius

With the help of this potent anti-wrinkle cream, skin is left feeling revitalized and more resilient in the morning.

2. Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream 

This fragrance-free, very moisturizing moisturizer is made with ingredients including stearic acid, squalane, and jojoba. In other words, it provides deep, long-lasting hydration while preventing pore clogging.

3. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

This moisturizer, which combines shea and murumuru butters and is rich in ceramides and fatty acids, strengthens the skin’s natural moisture barrier and helps moisture stay in the skin over time. Even more, for a perfect finish, the composition dissolves into skin.

4. RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream

This night lotion contains a mixture of glycolic and stearic acids, which gradually exfoliate and retexturize skin.


Q: Is stearic acid the same as citric acid?

A: No, stearic acid and citric acid are different compounds. Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid derived from animal or vegetable sources, commonly used in skincare products as an emulsifier or thickening agent. On the other hand, citric acid is a naturally occurring acid found in citrus fruits and is often used in skincare as a pH adjuster or exfoliant.

Q: Does stearic acid clog pores?

A: Stearic acid has a low comedogenic rating, which means it has a relatively low likelihood of clogging pores and causing acne breakouts for most people. However, everyone’s skin is unique, and some individuals may still experience pore clogging or skin irritation from stearic acid. If you have particularly acne-prone or sensitive skin, it may be wise to patch-test products containing stearic acid or consult with a dermatologist to determine its compatibility with your skin.

Q: Should I avoid stearic acid?

A: Avoiding stearic acid is not necessary for most people. In fact, stearic acid is widely used in skincare and cosmetic products due to its beneficial properties as an emulsifier and texture enhancer. It helps products achieve a smooth, creamy consistency and can contribute to a pleasant application experience. However, if you have identified stearic acid as a potential irritant for your skin or if your dermatologist has recommended avoiding it, then it would be appropriate to seek alternative products without stearic acid.

Q: Is stearic acid a retinol?

A: No, stearic acid is not a retinol. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and is commonly used in skincare for its anti-aging benefits. It helps promote cell turnover, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and improve skin texture. Stearic acid, on the other hand, is a fatty acid primarily used as an ingredient to enhance the texture and stability of skincare products. It does not provide the same benefits as retinol in terms of anti-aging effects.

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