Dicetyl Phosphate



No known benefits

Dicetyl Phosphate at a glance

  • Works as a mild cleansing agent and emulsifier
  • Helps control the thickness of liquids
  • Keeps water and oil phases of a formula from separating
  • May be plant- or animal-derived or synthetic

Dicetyl Phosphate description

Dicetyl phosphate is made from portions from cetyl alcohol and phosphoric acid to form an ingredient that functions as surfactant and emulsifier. Its primary role is to help control the viscosity of liquid cosmetic formulas as well as provide sensory improvements. It has a natural affinity for skin due to its phosphoric acid component’s relation to the phospholipids (a type of fatty acid) present in skin. Dicetyl phosphate is typically part of a blend with fatty alcohols and other phosphate ingredients made with cetyl alcohol. These blends have a nice synergy while that helps stabilize formulas while also being gentle on skin. Dicetyl phosphate is considered safe as used in cosmetics. Usage levels in leave-on products range from 0.2–4% and 0.038–1% in rinse-off products. Amounts up to 80% are considered non-irritating on skin. This ingredient may be plant- or animal-derived or synthetic (Paula’s Choice Skincare uses the plant-derived form which comes from coconut).

Dicetyl Phosphate references

  • International Journal of Toxicology, September 2019, pages 12S–32S
  • International Journal of Nanomedicine, February 2018, pages 831–842
  • International Journal of Pharmaceutics, August 2013, pages 311–320

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.