What is Polysorbate 80? I heard this stuff was bad news..

Posted by Vanessa Rojas on Aug 20th 2016

There is a lot of misinformation spreading on the internet recently.. more so, I have noticed, then previously. Whatever the reason, I also notice Polysorbate is a hot topic for the crunchy, fellow nature lover. But the truth of the matter is, that sorbate (sorbitol) is a natural sugar found in fruits while its counterpart is oleic acid found in animal fat or vegetables like olives, avocados etc. Some polysorbates have traces of toxins and can be hazardous if CONSUMED IN LARGE quantities. Although, I don't see why anyone would commence to drinking polysorbate!

Many blogs I have read online claim to be truth but come from a fearful perspective. Yes these people may have done the research but they lack plugging in the pieces together & applying it to their lives, in a realistic rational way. For example: 

Polysorbate 80 was found to cause cancer in animal lab testing.. yes this is true, but this was through IV (intravenous) experiment as well as consuming large quantities of it throughout an extended period of time. Now I love candy, but I if I eat 20 candy bars a day, how long do you think I will live before getting cancer or some sort of disease? This can be applied to most things in life, even products deemed to be healthy.

It's like saying your gentle, natural face moisturizer is going to give you cancer because it has 3% of some sort of chemical. But wait, aren't all chemicals bad? Well not all. Some chemicals are considered "natural identical" which is basically taking the natural components & synthesizing it for whatever reason. Chances are that chemical is very necessary.. but if you isolate that chemical, and consume it in large quantities, isnt it almost logical that adverse side effects will occur? The database has shown no cancers or reproductive issues or ANY adverse effects of ANY kind when using it on the skin. Let alone in such a small usage rate. If anything itll keep you clean, smooth & help the hair on your head grow faster thicker & fuller. SO ENJOY THE BATH BOMBS & feel good the  next time your read Polysorbate 80 in your natural product. If its the natural, vegetable type, then it does not contain harmful traces of toxins & considered to be cruelty free!

The Skin Deep Cosmetic Data Base says its between green safe 1 and light to moderate damage 3 (Scale from 1-10 they rate it 1-3). Polysorbate 80 usage rates on the scalp at around 50% have actually been CLINICALLY PROVEN to assist with scalp hair growth. In bath bombs, usage rates vary from 1-8% of the recipe. That is not a lot at all. We also have to consider the permeability to our skin which is not as absorbable as misinformation around the internet has claimed it to be! If our skin absorbed 100% of everything then it would absorb all the water from a bath or shower! We are not sponges! Skin is technically, water proof. Oil solubles are easier permeated but it also depend son the size of the oil molecule! For example:  Did you know there is a difference between skin permeability & absorbancy? Did you know that olive oil is not even absorbed by the skin? Olive oil is more like a carrier oil which creates a protective barrier on the skin & delivers other nutrient dense oils that do permeate the skin. But we can save all this for a future article.

This article explains Polysorbates best and really exposes any myths you may have heard out there! Here is a small excerpt, which I think sums it up perfectly in laymen:

"Polysorbates are oily liquids derived from a combination of sorbitol and certain fatty acids. Sorbitol is a natural sugar found in fruits and berries. Foods such as olives and avocados contain the monounsaturated fatty acids that combine with sorbitol to form various polysorbates. Polysorbate 80 happens to be highly effective at promoting hair growth, as distinct from polysorbate 60 or 20.

Polysorbate 80 is used as a cleanser, an emulsifier and a surfectant in products ranging from pharmaceuticals to vitamins, cosmetics to foods. Emulsifiers simply keep oils from separating from liquids, while surfectants reduce the surface tension of liquids, helping them achieve smooth, even coverage."

Function(s): Denaturant; Fragrance Ingredient; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; Surfactant - SolubilizingAgent