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Advantages and mode of use

Zinc stearate isn't exactly one of those ingredients that rolls off the tongue. And it probably doesn't ring a bell when you hear the name. But make no mistake, this cosmetic ingredient is everywhere.

"Zinc stearate is a zinc salt made from a fatty acid called stearic acid," explains board-certified dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD. "It has been used as a binding agent in powder cosmetics (such as powders, blushes and eyeshadows), as a thickening agent and as a lubricant."

We asked Murphy-Rose and board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, to explain why this ubiquitous ingredient is probably in some of your favorite products, as well as what exactly it does.

Meet the expert

  • Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, is a board certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at New York Laser and Skin Surgery Center and clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
  • Whitney BoweMD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City who specializes in skin rejuvenation, laser dermatology and the link between nutrition and skin care.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of zinc stearate for the skin.

Zinc stearate


MAIN ADVANTAGES : Binds or emulsifies products, improves product texture, can be used as a pigment or dye

WHO SHOULD USE IT: Almost everyone who finds it in their skin care or makeup products

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT : Daily in a formulated product

WORKS WELL WITH : Most of the other ingredients

DO NOT USE WITH : It works well with other ingredients, but because it is a water repellent, it may not work well with water-based products.

What is zinc stearate?

Zinc stearate is "essentially the zinc salt of stearic acid, which is a long-chain fatty acid," Bowe explains. "Stearic acid is a waxy substance that can act as an emollient and emulsifier, so it can make the skin softer and can also help the ingredients in a formulation blend well so that the application experience of that product is more elegant," she continues. "Zinc stearate, the zinc salt of stearic acid, can also help with hydration and improve the texture of a cosmetic product, giving it more slip."

Benefits of zinc stearate

  • Bind the productsZinc stearate is often used as a soap or as an emulsifier or binder in cosmetics.
  • Improves texture: "It can give a little bit of slip to a product, which improves the texture and makes applying a product more enjoyable," Bowe explains.
  • Adds color: "Zinc stearate can sometimes be used as a pigment or dye," Bowe explains.
  • Generally safe: Most skin types will not have to worry about adverse effects when using the ingredient.

Although the ingredient is fairly common, it's usually used as part of a formula's's not the star of the ingredients list. "Overall, it's a very safe ingredient, although I wouldn't call it a superstar active ingredient that delivers results," says Bowe. "It's safe to include in formulations to enhance the overall experience and help create a seamless, elegant formulation. However, I wouldn't look for this ingredient to deliver dramatic improvements to the skin.

Side effects of zinc stearate

While it is generally considered a safe ingredient, those with sensitive skin may want to exercise caution. "It has been questioned as an occupational hazard [specifically] as a respiratory hazard," Murphy-Rose warns. "Used in cosmetics, it has a low but possible toxicity risk. It is also possible to be an environmental toxin. It can also be a skin irritant.

How to use it

Zinc stearate isn't an ingredient you can find on the shelf by itself; instead, it's used in products that have been formulated with it. "I've most often seen it as an ingredient in cosmetic powders," says Murphy-Rose. "It helps keep the ingredients in powdered cosmetics from clumping together and helps them bind to the skin."

If your skin tolerates zinc stearate well, it can be used daily, Murphy-Rose says. However, she cautions that because it is a water repellent, it may not work well with water-based products.

The best products with zinc stearate

Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder

Bobbi brown
44,00 $


This choice is Murphy-Rose's "all-time favorite bronzer". With its blending powers, the matte bronzer will leave your skin naturally sun-kissed. Whether you want a touch of color or a deep tan, the buildable bronzer will get you there.

bareMinerals Mineral Veil Fixing Powder without talc

bareMinerals Mineral Veil Fixing Powder without talc

Mineral Veil talc-free setting powder
28,00 $


"A beautiful mineral-based finishing powder," according to Murphy-Rose, this completely sheer setting powder blurs pores and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles while helping your makeup go the distance. It produces no flashback and feels weightless on the skin.

NARS Blush

NARS Blush

30,00 $


This iconic makeup artist's favorite is "long-lasting and adheres well to the skin for extended wear, and the colors are gorgeous," says Murphy-Rose. Available in a range of shades and finishes ? shimmer, matte or satin ? this Pressed Powder Blush is deliciously blendable and modulable.Micronized powder pigments provide a super-silky feel on the skin.

Huda Beauty 3D Cream and Powder Highlighter Palette

Huda Beauty 3D Cream and Powder Highlighter Palette

Huda Beauty
3D cream and powder illuminator palette
45,00 $


Get your glow on with Huda Beauty's versatile highlighter palette. Four shades in two textures ? a creamy pearlescent hue and three pressed pearl shades ? give you a range of options. Use one solo or combine them all to achieve everything from a subtle glow to mega-watt radiance.

Makeup by Mario Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette

Makeup by Mario Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette

Make-up by Mario
Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette
48,00 $


One eyeshadow palette will cover all the bases when it comes to matte nude eyeshadow. The 12 shades in this palette are designed to be universally flattering and stay put without any fallout. Human skin tones are the muse behind the shade range, so it works equally well for creating a natural or dramatic look.


  • It is most often used as a binding agent in powder cosmetics, such as setting powders, blushes and eye shadows, as well as a thickening and lubricating agent.

  • "It is most often found in cosmetics," explains Murphy-Rose.

  • Yes, it is a zinc salt of stearic acid, which is a natural fatty acid.

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Gabriela is the creator of the blog, a platform dedicated to natural cosmetics and skin care. Her blog is an invaluable source of information and advice on how to achieve perfect, glowing skin. Gabriela passionately shares her in-depth knowledge of natural products, emerging trends and practical tips for an effective skincare routine.

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