Polysorbate 60


Cleansing Agent

No known benefits

Polysorbate 60 at a glance

  • Widely used emulsifier made from sorbitol and stearic acid
  • Provides mild cleansing properties
  • Can help enhance foam and thicken cleansers and emulsions
  • Aids penetration of skin care ingredients such as vitamin C

Polysorbate 60 description

Polysorbate 60 is an emulsifier made from the sugar ingredient sorbitol, the fatty acid stearic acid chemically condenses with ethylene oxide, a colorless gas. Along with keeping unlike ingredients combined, polysorbate 60 also aids in the dispersion of key ingredients throughout an emulsion. This ingredient is also considered a nonionic (uncharged) surfactant, the formal way to describe a mild cleansing agent that helps enhance foam and provides thickening properties. When combined with cetyl alcohol, polysorbate 60 has been shown to improve penetration of vitamin C and other antioxidants into skin. The standard usage range of polysorbate 60 in cosmetics is 1–10%. Amounts of 5% or more have been shown to irritate skin; however, other studies using amounts as high as 15% have not shown an irritant or sensitized response. As such, polysorbate 60 is generally considered safe for skin when used in amounts below 5%, with a 1% concentration considered non-irritating.

Polysorbate 60 references

  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, December 2021, pages 715–728
  • International Journal of Pharmaceutics, February 2012, pages 303–311; and January 2021, 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.