June 28, 2022


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Polyglyceryl Oleate

2 min read
polyglyceryl oleate

Polyglyceryl Oleate
INCI: Polyglyceryl-4 oleate

Polyglyceryl Oleate is a PEG-free water-in-oil (w/o) emulsifier and an ester of oleic acid and polyglycerin-4. It’s said to be an excellent emulsifier used to produce creams with very good hot and cold stability. It has an HLB of 5.

You may also see it listed as “Oleic Acid Polyglyceride” or “Tetraglyceryl MonoOleate”. You may also know it as “Durosoft PG4-O” (who manufactures their version in England).

Usage rate: 2 – 10%.

Polyglyceryl Oleate is a water in oil (w/o) emulsifier meant to create emulsions where the oil (lipids) is the external phase and the water (aqueous) is the internal phase. But what does that mean tho?! LOL!

It means the water droplets are suspended in oil. When you see something like “w/o”, think “internal/external”. Meaning, water is the internal (inside) phase and oil is the external (outside) phase.

Check out this diagram from molecularrecipes.com for a visual:
(blue is water, yellow is oils/lipids)

Polyglyceryl Oleate, being a w/o emulsifier, may create emulsions that feel more protective and substantive on the skin in comparison to emulsions made with o/w emulsifiers like Olivem 1000. You can certainly use it as a co-emulsifier while making regular oil-in-water (o/w) conditioners, lotions and creams.

Polyglyceryl Oleate is thought to be “cold processable”. That usually means you can use it to make room temperature emulsions if none of your other ingredients need to be melted. It comes in a liquid form and can be added “as is” (meaning you don’t have to heat it).

I purchased this ingredient from makingcosmetics.com and there are no instructions about adding it to either phase before heating. It literally says “Can be added to formulas as is”.

It’s said to be used for a number of benefits including but not limited to the following:

  • emulsifier
  • thickener
  • stabilizer
  • opacifier
  • pearlescent
  • emollient
  • anti-foam

Remember, we all had to get rid of our misunderstanding that percentages are what determines whether the emulsion is oil-in-water or water-in-oil. It’s not the percentage of water vs the percentage of oils or lipids. It’s the type of emulsifier which determines whether it’s a w/o emulsion or a o/w emulsion.


5 thoughts on “Polyglyceryl Oleate

  1. if you make a oil cleanser how do you know how much to add of the Polyglyceryl-4 Oleate? What is a good starting base if you are making a 5 oz bottle to start?

    1. I’ve never made an oil cleanser with this particular ingredient. I usually use a Creammaker ANIO or Creammaker FLUID as the liquid emulsifier in oil cleansers.

  2. What other emulsifiers operate similar to what makes this special, if any? I have a ton of different emulsifiers already and just want to make sure I’m not hoarding things that definitely already work just like this lol. Any near true substitutes/combinations?

    1. There are a few water-in-oil (w/o) emulsifiers. But I can’t vouch that one will be a good substitute for the other. For example, I have “Glyceryl Oleate” and “Sorbitan Oleate” but I can’t confirm that they keep the emulsion just as stable as Polyglyceryl Oleate. One thing I’ve noticed for sure is the “Glyceryl Stearate SE” is very good at stabilization AND thickening. (If you decide to get that one, make sure you get the “SE” version because it’s self-emulsifying). If I had to pick one water-in-oil emuslfier between all three, I’d pick the self-emulsifying Glyceryl Stearate SE even though it will make a cream.

  3. I use Polyglyceryl-4 Oleate in my oil cleanser and it makes it wash away easy peasy. Use between 10-15%

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