Is Glyceryl Stearate SE Comedogenic?

What Does Comedogenic Mean?

Comedogenic is a word used to describe substances or ingredients in cosmetic formulations that may promote acne, blackheads, or other clogged pores.

What Ingredients Are Comedogenic?

Based on the individual, certain ingredients may cause clogged pores in the skin.

For example, while someone may experience breakouts after using rosehip oil on the skin, another person may swear by its benefits.

However, there is a universal list of ingredients that is irritating to most individuals suffering from acne.

Find that list here.

What is Glyceryl?

Glyceryl is a derivative or form of glycerol.  

Glycerol is a chemically stable and colourless liquid found in a variety of cosmeceutical formulations (1).

It plays a role in skin hydration and barrier repair (2).

It has also been shown to play a role in speeding up wound healing, exhibiting antimicrobial properties, and protecting the skin from irritating substances (2).

What Is Stearate?

Stearate is a derivative of stearic acid.

Stearic acid is a solid white substance (3).

It is used as a product stabilizer and also imparts moisturizing effects on the skin. 

Stearic Acid Effects On The Skin

The skin’s barrier is made up of a specified ratio of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids.

Stearic acid is included in this fatty acid composition.

The presence of stearic acid in cosmetic formulations minimizes skin lipid damage and increases hydration (4).

Stearic Acid In Body Washes

Removal of stearic acid from the skin from harsh cleansers negatively impacts the skin’s barrier (4).

Incorporating stearic acid into a body wash actually added more fatty acids into the skin, improving hydration and barrier integrity (4).

It has been shown to reduce water loss in the skin as well.

What Is Glyceryl Stearate SE?

Glyceryl Stearate SE is a combination of glycerol and the fatty acid stearic acid along with an added substance that makes it “self-emulsifying” – This is what “SE” stands for in its name. 

What Does Emulsifying Mean In Cosmetics?

Emulsifying is a term used to describe a substance that helps to mix ingredients that otherwise do not mix well.

There are many phases of ingredients that do not mix.

Oil and water are one example of two substances that do not mix.

Emulsifiers In Oil Cleansers and Moisturizers

Oil cleansers are a type of skincare product that often have a hard time being washed off with water.

Moisturizers may also contain nourishing oils and other waxy substances to aid in skin hydration.

An emulsifier may need to be incorporated into these products in order to mix these ingredients with other water-based ingredients.

Why Is Glyceryl Stearate SE Helpful In Cosmetics?

Glyceryl Stearate SE is a type of emulsifier that not only imparts a hydrating effect on the skin, but helps to stabilize cosmetics.

By helping formulations mix together well, this ingredient allows for stability and ease of use.

The product will not separate into oils and watery substances.

Glyceryl Stearate SE allows the product to be used easily and spread evenly into the skin.

Is Glyceryl Comedogenic?

As stated previously, comedogenicity is dependent on the individual.

It is important to track the ingredients you use on your skin, and to identify which ingredients cause you to breakout.

When it comes to glycerol (a pure form of glycerin) is well-tolerated amongst most people.

It is used in most lotions and creams, as well as hydrating facial cleansers.

Is Stearate Comedogenic?

Stearate, a type of fatty acid, may be bothersome to some individuals as it penetrates the skin well.

However, fatty acids are essential in maintaining the skin’s barrier, so you are likely to tolerate this fatty acid as well.

In conclusion, this ingredient imparts benefits to the skin including hydration, maintenance of the skin barrier, and increased wound healing.

It is a beneficial ingredient that should be incorporated into your skincare routine.


  2. Fluhr JW, Darlenski R, Surber C. Glycerol and the skin: holistic approach to its origin and functions. Br J Dermatol. 2008 Jul;159(1):23-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08643.x. Epub 2008 Jul 1. PMID: 18510666.

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