Polysorbate 20 is a gentle, oily, liquid cosmetic additive that functions as a non-ionic surfactant and wetting agent that enhances the spread-ability of liquids. As a solubilizer, it helps both essential oils and fragrance oils to attach to various types of cosmetic bases, including liquid, cream, and gel bases, and thereby prevents the oils and bases from separating.

It is made by the reaction of sorbitol and polyol with ethylene oxide. The number 20 here represents the number of molecules of ethylene oxide that were reacted.

SynonymsSorbitan monolaurate, ethoxylated
Polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate
CAS no.9005-64-5
EINECS no.500-018-3
Molecular formulaC26H50O10
Molecular weight522.7


Foodis used as a wetting agent in flavored mouth drops such as Ice Drops, helping to provide a spreading feeling to other ingredients like SD alcohol and mint flavor
Biotechnology1) as a washing agent in immunoassays, such as Western blots and ELISAs
2) to saturate binding sites on surfaces (i.e., to coat polystyrene microplates, generally combined with proteins such as BSA)
3) to stabilize proteins purified protein derivative (PPD) solution used in skin testing for tuberculosis exposure
4) as a solubilizing agent of membrane proteins
Pharmaceuticalis used as an excipient in pharmaceutical applications to stabilize emulsions and suspensions
Industrial1) in many brands of baby wipes
2) by philatelists to remove stamps from envelopes and to remove residues from stamps, without harming the stamp itself
3) as wetting agent in rubber balers in the elastomer industry
4) as a shape directing agent to synthesize spheroidal magnetite nano-assemblies


AppearanceViscous oily liquid
ColourYellowish to Brown
Acid valuemgKOH/gmMax 2.0
Saponification valuemgKOH/gm40 – 50
Hydroxyl valuemgKOH/gm96 – 108
Moisture content (by KFR)%Max 3.0
pH of 5% aqueous solution5 – 7
Iodine valueI2/100gmMax 5.0
SolubilitySoluble in water and alcohol

Tightly closed. Keep in a well-ventilated place

220 kg HDPE drums

REACH Status
A registration number is not available for this substance as the substance or its uses are exempted from registration, the annual tonnage does not require a registration, or the registration is envisaged for a later registration deadline.

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