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Home  >  Blog  >  An Introduction to Polysorbate 60: Properties, Functionality, and Applications

An Introduction to Polysorbate 60: Properties, Functionality, and Applications

Today we’re discussing an essential component found in many commercial products and processes across various industries – polysorbate 60. Despite being present in countless household goods and pharmaceutical formulations worldwide, there are still gaps in knowledge regarding its significance and versatile functions among individuals who interact with these commodities daily.

By gaining insights into its unique features, you’ll soon appreciate how it affects your life in ways you never imagined possible. The aim is to heighten awareness through education so that, when making purchasing decisions and observing labels, consumers can better grasp what goes into their favorite products and understand their presence means safety, quality, and performance have been prioritized during development and production. Hence, let us embark upon a journey together, exploring the fascinating properties and numerous functionalities that make polysorbate 60 indispensable.


Polysorbate 60 is a versatile and widely used emulsifying agent, surfactant, and stabilizer in various industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. It is a polyoxyethylene sorbitan ester with a fatty acid chain derived from sorbitol. Also known as Tween 60, this ingredient effectively stabilizes emulsions, enhances product texture, and optimizes formulation performance.

Its various names, including Eumulgin® SMS 20, Kolliphor® PS 60, ALKEST® TW 60 PRODUCT 3 8 AT VICAPOL 60, UNITOP POLYSORBATE 60, Liposorb® S-60, and PS-60, demonstrate its wide recognition and adaptability across diverse industries and applications.

Properties of Polysorbate 60

Polysorbate 60 possesses unique properties that contribute to its effectiveness in various applications. Chemically, it is composed of a hydrophilic polyoxyethylene chain attached to a lipophilic sorbitan group. This molecular structure allows Polysorbate 60 to interact with both oil and water, making it an excellent emulsifying agent. In terms of physical properties, it typically appears as a yellowish liquid or waxy solid, depending on the temperature. It is soluble in water and miscible with various organic solvents. Polysorbate 60 has a relatively low density, enabling it to disperse easily in formulations.

Furthermore, Polysorbate 60 exhibits excellent stability, which is crucial for product quality and shelf life. It is resistant to oxidation and microbial degradation, ensuring the longevity of the products in which it is used.

Functionalities of Polysorbate 60

A. Emulsifying Agent

Emulsifying is the process in which two immiscible liquids, such as oil and water, are combined to form a stable and uniform mixture. Polysorbate 60 plays a crucial role in emulsification by reducing the interfacial tension between oil and water phases. It forms a protective layer around droplets of oil, preventing them from coalescing and promoting their dispersion throughout the continuous aqueous phase. This property makes Polysorbate 60 an essential ingredient in the production of emulsions, such as salad dressings, sauces, and creams.

B. Surfactant Properties

Polysorbate 60 acts as a surfactant, meaning it reduces the surface tension between two substances, such as a liquid and a solid or a liquid and a gas. This property enhances the wetting and spreading characteristics of Polysorbate 60, making it easier for substances to disperse or dissolve. In the food industry, Polysorbate 60 helps ingredients mix uniformly, improves the texture of baked goods, and enhances the mouthfeel of various products.

C. Stabilizer and Texture Enhancer

Polysorbate 60 serves as a stabilizer by preventing phase separation or flocculation in formulations. It helps maintain the uniform dispersion of ingredients, ensuring product consistency and quality. Additionally, Polysorbate 60 contributes to the texture enhancement of various products, such as ice cream and whipped toppings, by improving their smoothness and creaminess.

Polysorbate 60: Versatile Applications in Food, Pharma, and Cosmetics with Emphasis on Safety

A. Food and Beverage Industry Applications

Polysorbate 60 finds widespread use in the food and beverage industry. Its emulsifying properties make it valuable in bakery products like cakes, cookies, and bread, where it helps achieve desirable textures and extend shelf life. It is also used in desserts, such as puddings and custards, to ensure smoothness and prevent ingredient separation. Furthermore, Polysorbate 60 plays a significant role in the production of ice cream and whipped toppings, imparting a creamy texture and stabilizing air bubbles.

B. Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Applications

Polysorbate 60 is extensively utilized in the pharmaceutical industry for its ability to enhance drug formulation and delivery. It is commonly employed as a solubilizing agent, aiding in the dispersion of poorly water-soluble drugs in liquid formulations. Polysorbate 60 also improves the bioavailability of certain drugs by increasing their absorption rate. In addition, it acts as a co-emulsifier and stabilizer in topical creams, lotions, and ointments, ensuring uniform distribution of active ingredients and enhancing product texture.

In the cosmetic industry, Polysorbate 60 serves as an emulsifier in various skincare and personal care products. It allows the combination of oil and water-based ingredients, facilitating the creation of creams, lotions, and serums with smooth textures and desirable sensory attributes. Polysorbate 60’s emulsifying properties enable the even dispersion of active ingredients, such as vitamins, antioxidants, and moisturizers, ensuring their effectiveness.

C. Safety Considerations and Regulatory Status

Polysorbate 60 has undergone rigorous safety evaluations and is considered safe for consumption and topical application. It has been approved for use by regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, individuals with known allergies or sensitivities to Polysorbate 60 or its constituents should exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using products containing this ingredient.

While Polysorbate 60 is generally regarded as safe, it is essential to adhere to recommended usage levels and guidelines provided by regulatory bodies. Manufacturers and formulators must ensure compliance with relevant regulations to maintain consumer safety and product integrity.


Polysorbate 60 is a versatile ingredient with properties that make it highly desirable in various industries. Its emulsifying, surfactant, and stabilizing properties enable the creation of stable and well-dispersed formulations, while its texture-enhancing capabilities contribute to the overall sensory experience of products. Whether in the food, pharmaceutical, or cosmetic industry, Polysorbate 60 plays a vital role in improving product quality, texture, and performance.

Understanding the properties, functionality, and key features of Polysorbate 60 allows manufacturers, formulators, and consumers to appreciate its significance in a wide range of applications. With its established safety record and regulatory approval, Polysorbate 60 continues to be a valuable ingredient that contributes to the success and effectiveness of numerous products.

In conclusion, Polysorbate 60 is a multifunctional ingredient that deserves recognition for its ability to enhance emulsification, stabilize formulations, improve texture, and deliver active ingredients effectively. Its widespread applications in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries make it an indispensable component in many consumer products.

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