Polysorbate 80 is a nonionic surfactant and emulsifier often used in foods and cosmetics. This synthetic compound is a viscous, water-soluble yellow liquid.
- Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in foods.For example in ice cream, polysorbate is added up to 0.5% (v/v) concentration to make the ice cream smoother and easier to handle, as well as increasing its resistance to melting. Adding this substance prevents milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join together in chains and nets, which hold air in the mixture, and provide a firmer texture that holds its shape as the ice cream melts.
- Health and beauty usePolysorbate 80 is also used as a surfactant in soaps and cosmetics, or a solubilizer such as in a mouthwash. The cosmetic grade of polysorbate 80 may have more impurities than the food grade.
- Medical usePolysorbate 80 is an excipient that is used to stabilize aqueous formulations of medications for parenteral administration, and used as an emulsifier in the manufacture of the popular antiarrhythmic amiodarone. It is also used as an excipient in some European and Canadian influenza vaccines. Influenza vaccines contain 25 μg of polysorbate 80 per dose. It is also used in the culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Middlebrook 7H9 broth. It is also used as an emulsifier in the estrogen-regulating drug Estrasorb
Polysorbate 80 is primarily used in cosmetics and beauty products as a surfactant and emulsifier because of its ability to help other ingredients dissolve in a solvent in which they normally would not be able to dissolve, specifically in the case of oil in water (CosmeticsInfo.org). It can also help to reduce surface tension of substances that need to be emulsified. It is seen in a variety of formulas, including skin fresheners, skin care products, skin cleansing products, makeup bases and foundations, shampoos, and fragrance powders, as well as food products.
It is a popular ingredient in ice cream, because of its ability to “prevent milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join together in chains and nets, to hold air in the mixture, and provide a firmer texture, holding its shape as the ice cream melts,” according to Wikipedia. This process is similar to the above mentioned ability of Polysorbate to reduce surface tension in cosmetic and skin care formulas.
- Although Polysorbate 80’s Material Safety Data Sheet only lists eye irritation as a hazard, the Cosmetics Database also notes cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity concerns, with lesser concerns including organ toxicity and neurotoxicity, although it ultimately finds it a low hazard ingredient. In 2006, animal studies showed reproductive effects at very low doses; in vitro tests on mammalian cells showed positive mutation results.Further concerns exist about Polysorbate 80’s effects on the reproductive system. According an article published at Infertility.Suite101.com, studies were published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in 2005 that linked Polysorbate 80 to nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reactions, or anaphylactoid shock, and ultimately, to death from this reaction, including in a pregnant woman receiving an IV drip of multi-vitamins including Polysorbate 80. Another study published in Food Chemical Toxicology found that rats injected with Polysorbate 80 underwent significant reproductive changes.
- Consult your pharmacist.
Source: TruthinAging, https://www.truthinaging.com/ingredients/polysorbate-80