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Emulsifying, hydrating, barrier repair, surfactant

Important Chemical Components:

Saturated fatty acid containing long alkyl chains.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) name is octadecanoic acid and its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)16CO2H. Its molecular formula is C18H36O2.

Origin Classification:

Stearic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in many natural and organic moisturizers and soaps.

Personal Care Category:

Cleanser, moisturizer

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:

DRNT, DRNW, DRPT, DRPW, DSNT, DSNW, DSPT, and DSPW or any skin types with allergic type sensitive skin (S4)


Stearic acid, a waxlike saturated fatty acid also known as octadecanoic acid, is an important naturally occurring component of stratum corneum (SC) lipids. Besides being synthesized by human beings, stearic acid is also found in butter, cocoa butter, shea butter, vegetable fats, and animal tallow. It is found in many oils but the highest concentrations are in cocoa butter (chocolate), butter, and shea butter. The nonanimal-derived oil with one of the highest amounts of stearic acid is argan oil, which has a concentration of 4 to 7 percent.1 Stearic acid is found in all cosmetic product categories including soaps, syndet bars, body oils, moisturizers, color cosmetics, and perfumes.


Stearic acid is one of the most common fatty acids found in nature. It is one of the oldest cosmetic ingredients because it is a component of vegetable and animal oils that have been used on the skin for centuries. Historically it has not been used as a singular ingredient, but is found as a component of many popular ingredients such as cocoa butter and various oils.

Stearic acid plays an important role in the skin’s permeability barrier along with linoleic acid and palmitic acid (from palm oil). Palmitic and stearic acids are both saturated fatty acids. Linoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid and displays anti-inflammatory properties that stearic acid does not exhibit. Stearic acid has been incorporated into many personal care products because of its safety profile, ubiquity, and inexpensive cost in addition to its surfactant and hydrating abilities. It is found in many “hydrating” body washes and bars that deposit stearic acid on the skin. Stearic acid is found in argan oil, the world’s most expensive oil, at a concentration of 4 to 7 percent.1


Stearic acid is a saturated long-chain fatty acid with the chemical formula CH3(CH2)16CO2H (see Figure 23-1). The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) name is octadecanoic acid. It is also known as cetylacetic acid and stearophanic acid.


Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid with an 18-carbon chain.

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