A Boutique GMP Factory That Makes Handmade Natural Products. Formulated By Pharmacist


What Is The Difference Between Stearic Acid & Cetyl Alcohol In Lotion

Hi all; today we will be talking about what is the difference between stearic acid and cetyl alcohol in lotion making. 

Most of SoapLab's recipes or even bases have either one of these. What are they? they are basically thickeners.

What is A Thickener?

Thickeners are ingredients that are added to make the lotion thicker. If you made the normal lotion with 80% water phase; you will get a lotion that is ‘runny’. Depending on the site of application; it may be good for some area like face and neck, but in areas where the body is not exposed like armpit or heels; you need a lotion that is thicker so it sticks. 

Due to that you add a thickener. You could always change the product from lotion to cream by adding more butters which will thicken the product. But if you wanted something that is less greasy; you can either add cetyl alcohol or stearic acid. Hence they are called the thickeners.


Stearic acid is usually from coconut or palm oil and its added to create a really thick product. If you wanted something that is thick and you want the feeling of thickness; where when you apply its draggy somewhat like ointment; then stearic acid is a good choice. We usually use staric acid on products that requires a strong adhesion to the skin. Some place where the skin is thick and unexposed like armpit, knee, heels, elbow etc.


Cetyl alcohol; also plant based; are more smooth and it spreads nicely. It doesnt thicken the product so much and its much easier to apply. It also gives the nice silky finish to the lotion as compared to steraic acid that gives a rich-thick feeling. We usually use cetyl alcohol in products that requires easy spreading like product used on body, hands and legs.

I hope this clarifies our question about thickeners. Please let me know in the comment below if you need me to talk about any other questions you might have.

Thank you for reading;


  1. Does stearic acid sting

    1. Hi no it doesnt. Although its called 'acid' its not really tht kind of acid. Its called acid due to its molecules. Stearic acid comes from oils and are called as fatty acids as well:-)-Nisha

  2. Hi, please do cetyl alcohol darkens the skin, since it's made from coconut

  3. hi unknowm. no it wont. even stearci can come frm coconut:-) why do u think coconut darken the skin?

  4. Hi, thank you for information, can i use both to make body lotion/cream? tnx

  5. Hey, I can't find cetyl alcohol. Can i substitute it with stearic acid in ny conditioner bar? I'm also using shea butter and BTMS-50.

  6. Hi,
    Can I replace stearic acid with cetyl alcohol an use xantham gum as thickener? Its for a face cream.


Please Whatsapp Us at 0126643817 for any enquiry



Should i register my natural handmade products with KKM?

Hi. Good morning. Heres another question that we get asked a lot so i thought of enlighten you with the answer to this question. S...