Benefits of Ceteareth 20 for Skin & Hair

Ceteareth 20- A key Emulsifying Ingredient

Have you ever come across the word ‘Ceteareth 20’? I am sure if you happen to check the list of ingredients of your regular shampoo, conditioner or facial cream, lotion or moisturizer then you will definitely find this name. In this article, we are going to learn about this key ingredient which is found in most of the skincare and hair care products.

What is Ceteareth 20? 

Ceteareth is a fatty alcohol which is made from Cetearyl Alcohol (a combination of cetyl and stearyl alcohol) and ethylene oxide. The numeric value along with it denotes the number of ethylene oxide molecules added to it to generate that particular Ceteareth ingredient. For example,  Ceteareth 20 is made by combining 20 molecules of ethylene oxide to Cetearyl Alcohol.

Ceteareth 20 is also known to be the polyethylene glycol ether of Cetearyl Alcohol. These compounds are nonionic surfactants which attract both water and oil at the same time. It usually acts as an emollient and emulsifying agent in many skin care and hair care formulations. It is formulated in combination with fatty acids and other alcohols to add thickness to the formulation and it also helps other active ingredients dissolve in the solvent. Ceteareth 20 is odourless and can be mixed with natural as well as synthetic oils.

Role Of Ceteareth 20 In Skincare Products 

Ceteareth 20 is a chemical compound which is made by combining Cetearyl Alcohol and ethylene oxide. It is commonly used as an emollient in many skin care products which help to make your skin soft, supple and smooth.

It acts as an emulsifier in the skincare formulation. An emulsifier is required in the formulation which contains both water and oil. When water and oil are mixed together, it gets separated and the oil forms a thin film on the surface. In the skincare products, in which oil is added to the water-based formula, it helps in binding the water and oil together and gives stability to the product. Ceteareth 20 is compatible with a wide variety of oils and is soluble in water and isopropyl alcohol.

Ceteareth 20 acts as an excellent surfactant which helps to reduce the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified and helps to cleanse your skin thoroughly by allowing water to mix with oil and grime so that it could be washed away while rinsing.

Role Of Ceteareth 20 In Hair Care Products 

Ceteareth 20 works with other alcohols and fatty acids to add viscosity to the formulation and helps other active ingredients to dissolve in the solvent. It acts as a nonionic stabilizer in oil and in water emulsions. You find Ceteareth 20 in a lot of hair care products, because of its emollient and emulsifying properties which make your hair soft and shiny.

The emollient property of Ceteareth 20 helps to add moisture to your hair and makes the hair look silky, shiny and well hydrated. It makes your scalp healthy by keeping it hydrated, thereby preventing dry and itchy scalp. It is hydrophilic in nature, thereby attracts water molecules and helps retain moisture, thereby keeping your strands well hydrated.

Ceteareth 20 also acts as an excellent surfactant in cosmetic products. As a surfactant, Ceteareth 20 helps to lower the surface tension between liquid and liquid or liquid and solid. It allows the water molecules to mix with oil and dirt present on the hair and scalp, thus helping to get rid of the residue from your strands while washing. Most of the surfactants have one hydrophilic end and the other lipophilic end. One end attracts the water molecule while the other combines with the grease and dirt present on the surface of your strands which gets washed away.

As an emulsifier in the hair care formulation, Ceteareth 20 helps to bind water molecules and oil together, giving more stability to the product. The main function of Ceteareth 20 as an emulsifier is to hold all the active ingredients in the formulation together, especially oil and water in the water-based formula.

Benefits Of Ceteareth 20 

Ceteareth 20 is a non-ionic polyoxyethylene ether of higher fatty alcohols. Ceteareth 20 is a white coloured, odourless compound which can be combined with a large variety of oils both natural as well as synthetic. Ceteareth 20 is a chemical compound which is used extensively in many skincare, hair care and personal care formulations. Ceteareth 20 is added in most of the cosmetic products not because it is directly beneficial to your skin or hair in any way, but because of its composition and functions. Due to its incredible properties, Ceteareth 20 has secured a prominent place in the beauty industry. Let us take a closer look at the benefits of Ceteareth 20.

  1. It is considered to be a universal emulsifier which produces o/w emulsion which is known to be compatible with a wide variety of oils.
  2. It can be used alone or along with other emulsifiers to help stabilize the formulation.
  3. Its emollient property helps to keep your skin soft and smooth. It also makes your hair silky and shiny.
  4. It adds thickness by increasing the viscosity of the product formula, making your product look rich and creamy.
  5. It works best with gel-forming thickeners, hence extensively used in facial serums and hair gels.
  6. It acts as a protective colloid which helps to stabilize all kinds of dispersed active ingredients.
  7. Ceteareth 20 acts as a surfactant in your skincare and hair care products. The main function of a surfactant is to lower the surface tension between 2 liquids or solid-liquid, which allows them to mix together such as water and grime-dirt. This action is responsible for the cleansing property in your shampoos, conditioners, soaps, skin cleansers, body washes, face washes etc.
  8. Ceteareth 20 is used alone or it can also be used along with other emulsifiers for providing stability to the formulation.
  9. It helps to bind all the active ingredients together in your skincare and haircare formulations, thereby making your formula more stable.
  10. As Ceteareth 20 prevents the active ingredients in the formula from separating, it aids in the even application of the products, which helps to enhance the product performance.

The Cetearyl alcohol in the Ceteareth 20 is derived from natural oil (cetyl and stearyl alcohol) which helps to add thickness to the product, providing stability to the product formulation and is responsible for its emollient property.

These are some of the beneficial properties of Ceteareth 20, due to which it is extensively being used in the production of many skincare and hair care products you use daily. It is considered to be a key ingredient in many surfactant-based formulations.

Uses Of Ceteareth 20 

Ceteareth 20 is considered to be a key ingredient in all kinds of emulsion-based products, hence used in many bath products, toiletries and personal care products. It acts as an excellent emulsifier, surfactant and exhibits emollient properties.

  1. Its emollient property makes it an ideal choice in creams, moisturizing lotions, anti-ageing creams, shampoos, conditions, hair gels and serums.
  2. Due to its emulsifying property, it is used in many skincare products such as facial moisturizers, skin cleansers, sunscreens, exfoliators, acne treatment ointments and in many popular hair care products such as shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, hair dyes.
  3. It is very effective in treating various dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
  4. Ceteareth 20 is used in the treatment, control and prevention of the various skin conditions such as diaper rashes.
  5. It is effectively used in the treatment of skin burns from radiation therapy.

These are some of the best uses of Ceteareth 20. It acts as an excellent emulsifier, surfactant and exhibits emollient properties. This is why it is increasingly being used in major skincare, haircare and personal care products.

Side Effects Of Ceteareth 20 

Generally Ceteareth 20 and its ingredients are considered to be safe for topical application. But it should be noted that Ceteareth 20 must not be used on damaged or broken skin. In very rare cases, it is known to cause redness, itching or skin irritation and sometimes it even leads to a burning sensation. The presence of ethylene oxide in Ceteareth 20 is also a matter of concern because, during the process of ethoxylation, it gets contaminated by 1, 4-dioxane which is formed as a by-product It is considered to be a potentially harmful by-product. 1, 4-dioxane is associated with various kinds of allergic reactions on the skin. Dioxane is known to readily penetrate through the skin and causes an allergic reaction on your skin and body. This potentially harmful ingredient can be removed by the purification process before adding Ceteareth20 into the formulation. If you notice any allergic reaction on your skin, discontinue its use and immediately consult a healthcare professional.


 Written By - Akhila Menon




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