Glycerin and stearic acid had a baby...
Sometimes, the ingredients listed on products sound creepier or more confusing than they actually are. Thanks to an overabundance of information on sulfates, silicones, parabens, petroleum, and other potentially naughty ingredients, products that don't have plainly understood ingredients like coconut oil and botanical extracts are often frowned upon by curly girls.
What is Glyceryl Stearate?
Glyceryl stearate is the end result of reaction between glycerin and stearic acid. We all know what glycerin is and does (generally vegetable based humectant), and stearic acid is a fatty acid compound extracted from a variety of vegetable, animal, and oil sources such as palm kernel and soy. The end result of the reaction with glycerin and stearic acid is a cream-colored, waxy like substance.
What does Glyceryl Stearate Do?
Glyceryl stearate helps give products the creamy smooth feel we love
Glyceryl Stearate is a popular cosmetic ingredient in everything from mascara to conditioner. But for hair products in particular, glyceryl stearate helps give them the creamy smooth feel we curlies love, and softens our hair. Additionally, glyceryl stearate helps form a protective barrier on the hair to prevent moisture loss, and also fight free radical damage.
Is it Harmful?
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) database, glyceryl stearate has a rating of 0, which means it poses no risk. There are no associated organ toxicity (reproductive and non) concerns, no potential for environmental toxicity, or bioaccumulation hazards. Additionally, it has been recognized as safe for use as an additive in food by the FDA (although I can't understand why anyone would want to eat waxy stuff).
What Products Contain Glyceryl Stearate?
There are tons of products that contain glyceryl stearate. Some hair and cosmetic products I've encountered include Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lavender Mint Moisturizing Conditioner, Aunt Jackie's Knot on My Watch, OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner, Design Essentials Natural Curl Stretching Cream, ORS Curls Unleashed No Boundaries Leave-In Conditioner, and As I Am Coco Shea Spray.