Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating General Polysorbate 80 or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil?

  • Polysorbate 80 or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil?

    Posted by Doreen on May 29, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Can I use both polysorbate 80 or PEG-40 as a solubilizer for vitamin E or perfum oils in lotions and serums? Or is there really a significant difference I should be aware of? (I don’t use them both in one preparation).

    johnb replied 7 years, 1 month ago 3 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • johnb

    May 29, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Personally, I’ve never been very enthusiastic about polysorbates (or their sorbitan ester precursors).

    There may be some negative with polysorbate 80 in that it is an oleate (therefore unsaturated) but that should not affect its general use.

    The most common solubiliser suggested by the companies I’ve worked in has been PEG40 HCO but, all in all, I don’t think there is much to choose between them.

    I’m not sure of current pricings - this may have an influence on your choice.

  • belassi

    May 29, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate

  • johnb

    May 29, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Never found PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate as versatile a solubiliser as PEG40 HCO.

  • Doreen

    May 29, 2017 at 2:54 pm


    PEG-40 is cheaper than polysorbate here.
    I reckon PEG-40 also affects preservatives like phenoxyethanol and parabens, like polysorbate does?

  • johnb

    May 29, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Please be aware that PEG 40 is very different to PEG 40 hydrogenated castor oil (PEG 40 HCO).

    All nonionic surfactants affect certain (usually oleophilic) preservatives.

  • Doreen

    May 29, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Sorry, I meant PEG40 hydrogenated castor oil (LV41)
    What exactly is PEG 40? If I google it, I only get the HCO one.

  • johnb

    May 30, 2017 at 8:24 am

    PEG-40 is polyethylene glycol. The 40 is an indication on the number of oxyethylene (-OCH2CH2-) groups are present per molecule.

    PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil is castor oil which has been subjected first to hydrogenation to reduce the glyceryl ricinoleate moiety to glyceryl hydroxystearate then reacting that with sufficient oxyethylene (ethylene oxide) to form a polyoxyethylene chain of (about) 40 units per molecule of glyceryl hydoxystearate.

    Polyethylene glycols are subject to two nomenclature systems, one derived from the average chain length of the (-OCH2CH2-) groups per molecule and the other derived from the average molecular weight of the p[olymer chain - in the cases under consideration here PEG-40 has an approximate molecular weight of 2000 - thus in other industries it goes under the name of PEG-2000 or, particularly in pharma, Macrogol 2000.

    It should be remembered as well that the molecular weight system is also current in cosmetic nomenclature as instanced by PEG-6000 distearate (commonly used name) has the INCI = PEG-150 distearate.

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