Polyhydroxystearic Acid


Suspending/dispersing agent

No known benefits

Polyhydroxystearic Acid at a glance

  • Often used to coat mineral sunscreen active ingredients to help them disperse evenly
  • Other roles in skin care include emulsion stabiliser, film-former, and texture-enhancing thickener
  • Helps makeup pigments distribute more cohesively
  • Soft, pliable wax that is light tan to brown in color, derived from castor oil

Polyhydroxystearic Acid description

Polyhydroxystearic acid plays various roles in cosmetic formulas, including functioning as a suspending agent, emulsion stabiliser, film-former, and texture-enhancing thickener. This plant-derived or synthetic ingredient is often used to coat mineral sunscreen actives to help them disperse evenly. Suppliers of polyhydroxystearic acid also claim that it helps increase UV absorption and can reduce the white cast that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide leave behind. In makeup, polyhydroxystearic acid helps pigments distribute more cohesively. In lotions and creams, it adds emolliency. As a raw material, polyhydroxystearic acid is described as a soft, pliable wax that is light tan to brown in color, derived from castor oil.

Polyhydroxystearic Acid references

  • Making Cosmetics, Accessed October 2021, ePublication
  • Cosmetics Business, April 2016, ePublication

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.