How can I stabilize essential oils in lotion? Using polysorbate 20 or 80?

The fragrance in my lotion dissipates over time.  How can I keep my fragrance from fading?  Can I use polysorbate 20 or 80?  This is for an o/w emulsion.  
What phase do I add the polysorbate?  Water or oil phase?  Here is my formula...

Water Phase
Water 66.75%
Vegetable Glycerin 1.00%
Polysorbate 20: 1.50%

Oil Phase
Almond Oil: 7.50%
BTMS-50: 5.50%
Refined Shea Butter: 4.50%
Avocado Oil: 5.00%
Stearic Acid: 4.25%
Cetearyl Alcohol: 1.50%
Menthol Crystals: 2.00%

Liquid Germall™ Plus: 0.50%

I heat both phases to about 170-180 degrees F. Then mix both 


  • Hey there,
    I’ve  been using natural (deep orange in color) vitamin e to preserve my oils. Vitamin e slows down oxidation to my understanding. 
  • Also I add my vitamin e in below 40c. 
  • is this a pomade,? FOR HAIR
  • What phase do I add the polysorbate?  Water or oil phase?  
    Water of course.
    Add the essential oils at RT and check the results 
  • @KingRoland78
    I don't see any fragrance in your formula? Or do you mean the menthol scent that comes from the menthol crystals?

    I've seen O/W formulas where the polysorbate is added to the oil phase. Does it depend on the type to which phase it should be added?
    Is polysorbate 80 also suitable for stabilizing fragrances?
  • Polysorbate can be used as a solubilizer, in that case you can mix essential oils with polysorbate. This is very common in adding fragrances in shampoos.
    While emulsifiers (including polysorbates), I add them in the external phase of its specific type. O/W emulsifiers in water and W/O emulsifiers in oil. 
  • @em88
    Thanks! :+1:
  • @Doreen I use essential oils, tea tree, rosemary and spruce.  I've made lotion and water based pomades in the past wherr the fragrance dissipates.  My question is, does polysorbate 20 or 80 help retain the fragrance lifespan?  Do I add the polysorbate in the heated water phase? Or can I add polysorbate to my essential oils, mix and add to the cool down phase of formula?  I have both 20 and 80 polysorbate.  
  • @KingRoland78
    I don't know if polysorbates help retain the lifespan of a fragrance. I've used them as solubilizer mostly.
    When I've solubilized a fragrance with (in my case) polysorbate 80 (I don't know if 20 is better than 80 for this or vice versa), I mixed the polysorbate 80 with the fragrance (after warming the polysorbate a little bit until it becomes liquid) and incorporate it in the rest of the formula while mixing.
  • I would use 80 over 20 but I don’t see a solubilizer really making sense for improving fragrance. I suppose if you’re curious enough you’ll just have to try it with a small batch? I don’t see it hurting either.
  • You can either use syntetic fragrance oils or add a resin. Resins such as benzoin help stabilise the fragrance.
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