Naturally present in many vegetable oils and butters, stearic acid benefits the hair and skin as well as product formulation.
Where do we get it?
Lush uses a vegetable-based stearic acid, derived from palm oil. It is produced in Malaysia. Because completely palm-free stearic acid is so difficult to find, we’ve worked with suppliers to create a new version from other vegetable oils. In 2017, an attempt from Italy, derived from olive oil, has finally succeeded and has been introduced in a few of our products.
Why a few and not all our products then? Because it's not that simple. One material does not necessarily replace the other. As they are not derived from the same oil, they do not behave the same way, and switching them affects the appearance, shelf life, and product effectiveness. This is why we are also working on formulas to try and remove stearic acid altogether when possible, without affecting the quality of the product. It is, by the way, one of the reasons we use so much cocoa and shea butter - both naturally contain a lot of stearic acids.
What are the benefits of stearic acid?
- Provides lightweight condition and protection to the hair and skin.
- Acts as an emulsifier in lotions and makeup.
- Creates loose, easily absorbed emulsions when used together with triethanolamine.
What are the benefits of emulsifiers?
Cosmetic creams and lotions are often composed of water and oil-based ingredients, which are held together by substances called emulsifiers. Without them, the formula would separate, causing oil droplets to float on top of the water. Stearic acid is an emulsifier by itself, but can also be used with triethanolamine. When mixed, the two compounds react and become a paste called ‘triethanolamine stearate’ that helps to create a loose emulsion that is easily absorbed by the skin.