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Sucrose stearate is a mixture of the sugar sucrose and a natural substance known as stearic acid. Sucrose is abundant in nature and is found in fruits and vegetables.
In skin care products, sucrose stearate can play a wide variety of roles such as acting as an Emoluient(An emollient is an ingredient that softens the skin and smooths its texture). When applied to the skin, sucrose stearate fills in these spaces between the cells, improving the skin's texture. This is especially beneficial for individuals with dry skin, where the spaces are usually larger than those with other types of skin. The emollient properties of sucrose stearate make the ingredient popular for use in moisturizers, hand and foot creams and body lotions.
The rich texture that allows sucrose stearate to function well as an emollient also makes it useful as a thickener in skin care products and cosmetics. By adding the ingredient to their formulas, manufacturers can make watery products feel more substantial and be easier to apply to the skin. This also gives products a more luxurious, soothing feeling when they are applied.
Among the wide array of emulsifiers contained in skin and hair care products, sucrose stearate is considered a moderate to weak one. Typically, the ingredient is used along with another emulsifier to help keep formulas from separating in their packaging; however, it can also be used as the sole emulsifier in products where the risk of separating is not great due to the nature of its ingredients.
Sucrose stearate can function as a preservative die to the ability to limit the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and other microbes that can contaminate skin care products before they are purchased and after they are opened. The ingredient's anti-microbial abilities are not as far-reaching as many others available on the market today, which accounts for how infrequently sucrose stearate is used as a preservative.
Clinical studies have led to a potential new use for sucrose stearate as a potent ingredient in skin care. A study published in the "Journal of Food Science" in 2002 found that sucrose esters of fatty acids like sucrose stearate have the ability to enhance the activities of antioxidants.