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What is Glyceryl Stearate?

By Nicole Long
Updated May 21, 2024
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Glyceryl stearate is a wax-like chemical product manufactured from glycerin and stearic acid. The ingredient is often found in cosmetics and skin care products, such as lotions, creams, and cleansers. It acts as a lubricant and helps make the skin soft and smooth.

This wax-like ingredient often found in cosmetics and skin care products is derived from several sources. Palm kernel oil, soy oil, or vegetable oil are among the possible sources. The ingredient is also naturally manufactured by the human body. It may also be referred to as glyceryl stearate monostearate on labels and product data sheets.

Other properties of glyceryl stearate make it ideal for cosmetic and skin care use. The ingredient helps form a barrier on the skin and limits the amount of moisture loss the skin experiences. Protection from free-radicals is another touted benefit of using the ingredient in skin and cosmetic products. Some examples of potentially damaging free-radicals include those given off by pollution, cigarette smoke, and radiation. Free-radicals accumulate and become more damaging with age.

Cosmetics utilize this ingredient in a variety of ways. In foundations, glyceryl stearate can help with the smoothness and feel of the product on the skin. It can also help fill in fine lines and wrinkles, leaving the skin with a smooth appearance.

Skin care products such as lotions and creams also utilize the ingredient for many of the same purposes as foundations. Lotions and creams help moisturize skin and prevent skin cracking and drying, a result of including glyceryl stearate in the product. Other skin care products which contain the ingredient include sunscreen products.

Other cosmetic products also use this substance as an ingredient. This includes mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow. The properties of the ingredients helps keep mascara from clumping, eye shadow go on smoothly, and eyeliner maintain a smooth feel.

There are other purposes for including glyceryl stearate in cosmetic and skin care products. The ingredient helps prevent freezing and also eliminates surface crust on products such as creams and lotions. Reducing the greasy feeling in products is another benefit.

Experts recommend storing any products containing this chemical in a sealed container and away from both heat and light sources. A good suggestion is to store these products in a sealed medicine cabinet. Although this chemical is considered safe as an ingredient in consumer products, those in the lab should take precautions when handling it in its raw form.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon317754 — On Feb 04, 2013

Unfortunately, Glyceryl Stearate, as well as GS Citrate and GS SE are everywhere in bio certified products (and I use only such) and my skin does not tolerate it. The effect of use is horrible acne, so beware all people who have oily skin prone to impurities and so on.

By wavy58 — On Jul 29, 2011

I love my moisturizing lip balm. It contains glyceryl stearate, which is why it is so effective for so long.

This balm is unlike the others I have tried that just seem to dry out within minutes. The moisturizing properties it has astound me. I simply rub it on my lips, and they stay hydrated for hours. In fact, it seems like every time I press them together, I get a renewed burst of moisture.

I wonder if all lip products containing glyceryl stearate work this well. I think I will give some of them a try. I hate being tied to any one brand, because so often I get attached to one and it gets discontinued.

By orangey03 — On Jul 28, 2011

It’s nice to know that the glyceryl stearate in my liquid foundation is protecting me from pesky cigarette smoke and unavoidable pollution. During my walk to work everyday, I encounter large amounts of both, and it upsets me that I have to be exposed to them.

The moisturizer that I use before applying my foundation also contains glyceryl stearate, as does my shimmery powder eyeshadow. I also use a special moisturizing lipstick that contains the lubricating chemical. So, it seems that my face is covered in a protective layer of armor to shield me from free radicals and air pollution.

By lighth0se33 — On Jul 28, 2011

I use an anti-aging mousse-like cream that really helps smooth over and fill in lines. After reading this article, I checked the jar, and it does contain glyceryl stearate.

I started using the cream after a particularly rough summer in the sun. I saw my first age spots appear that year, and the lines under my eyes grew more apparent. I began applying this cream at night to my problem areas, and I would awaken with my tired skin looking more plump and shimmery.

It feels like a cream, but it spreads like a mousse. It goes on so unbelievably easy that a little bit goes a long way.

By Oceana — On Jul 27, 2011

I have always seen glyceryl stearate on ingredient lists of cosmetics and lotions, but I did not know what it did. It sounds like a master ingredient that should be included in all kinds of makeup and lotions.

I hate when my lotion gets a crust over the top of it. I usually throw it out when that happens. I have a new favorite kind of lotion containing glyceryl stearate that has never crusted over, and now I know why.

This lotion also goes on smooth without feeling greasy or leaving my skin oily. It’s nice to know what chemical to seek on bottles in the future.

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