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Polysorbate is a substance that manufacturers add to products to bind certain ingredients together that wouldn’t normally adhere to each other. It can be found in foods, cosmetics, and lotions.

There are many different types of polysorbate, and each type is designated by a number. This article will concentrate on polysorbate 80.

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Polysorbate 80 Terms to Know Polysorbate is a sticky, thick, amber liquid that can do many things. There are some words that are helpful to know when learning about this substance. It is an emulsifier, a surfactant, a defoamer and a solubilizer. Agents that act as emulsifiers help ingr... more

Polysorbate 80 Terms to Know

Polysorbate is a sticky, thick, amber liquid that can do many things. There are some words that are helpful to know when learning about this substance. It is an emulsifier, a surfactant, a defoamer and a solubilizer.

Agents that act as emulsifiers help ingredients that usually wouldn’t combine stay together. For example, you would need an emulsifier to mix oil and water.

A surfactant can lower the surface tension of liquids. Surface tension measures how firm the tops of liquids are and what substances they allow through. For instance, some objects float on water because their densities cannot pass through water’s surface.

Some substances won’t dissolve into liquids completely. Solubilizers help these materials dissolve better.

Defoamers are just what they sound like. They are agents put into materials to get rid of the foam on their surfaces. A defoamer will also take all the trapped air out of whatever it’s added to.

Polysorbate 80 in Common Products

Polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate, or polysorbate 80, uses all the properties of polysorbate to help make many different products. It is used as an emulsifier in cosmetics to mix their ingredients together. Many cosmetics require combining water with oily ingredients and polysorbate 80 makes it possible to do so.

Frozen desserts need to be able to be left out for short periods of time without melting. Polysorbate 80’s surfactant effects make it harder for the warm air to penetrate the desserts so they can stay frozen longer.

Items that you spread or mix into other substances, like shortening, condiments, cosmetics, and creams, need an emulsifier and a surfactant. Polysorbate 80 allows these materials to spread and be added to recipes easily.

Body washes, liquid soaps and food made with gelatins are a few products that need Polysorbate 80’s solubilizer properties. Many medicines rely on Polysorbate 80 for that too.

Yeast and cottage cheese are two products that sometimes develop foam on top or have excess air in them. Polysorbate 80 is added to these to prevent the foam from appearing and get rid of all the air pockets.

Polysorbate 80 as a Treatment for Anemia

Sometimes doctors prescribe polysorbate 80 under the brand name Darbpepoetin Alfa. It is used as a treatment for anemia in patients who have kidney diseases or are going through chemotherapy. The polysorbate 80 works by emulating bone marrow and making red blood cells.

This form of Polysorbate 80 is normally administered in an injection at a medical office. If you are self-administering the drug, you should be instructed on the procedure by a healthcare provider.

When giving yourself polysorbate 80, be sure to use a clean disposable syringe and choose a different injection site each time. Don’t inject polysorbate 80 into sites that have damaged skin (sore, red, swollen, scarred, or stretch marks).

Dispose vials, needles and syringes properly. If you don’t know the proper way to dispose of them, ask your doctor. Don’t reuse any piece of equipment.

If you miss a dose, contact your doctor or healthcare provider for advice.

Polysorbate 80 and Safety

Many conditions can effect how polysorbate 80 works and you shouldn’t use it if any of the following occur:

  • Polysorbate 80 has become cloudy, a different color or has particles in it
  • The bottle is cracked or broken
  • The liquid was shaken or frozen
  • It was mixed with other medicines

Polysorbate 80 Precautions

People with certain health problems, such as high blood pressure, shouldn’t take Polysorbate 80.

Sometimes Polysorbate 80 can cause pure red cell aplasia, which is a certain type of anemia. If you have taken this medicine before and it has had this effect, tell your doctor.

The effects of Polysorbate 80 have not been tested on unborn babies or infants. Talk to your doctor about your baby’s health if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

This is not a full list of precautions to consider before using Polysorbate 80. You should talk with your doctor extensively before using this medication.

The above information about the medical use of polysorbate 80 came from Drugs.com.

Polysorbate 80 Side Effects

Even though polysorbate 80 is used in many different products, it can cause some serious side effects, according to Livestrong.com. Polysorbate 80 has been known to form tumors that are cancerous.

Polysorbate 80 also can cause headaches and dizziness in some people. In a study, about 7% of the patients reported that they were dizzy and 15% said they got headaches.

Your immune system can be suppressed by Polysorbate 80. Twenty-four percent of patients noticed a drop in immunity, and 15% got many respiratory infections.

People using Polysorbate 80 also complained of gastrointestinal problems. About 35% of the patients had stomach pain, nausea, or diarrhea or needed to vomit.

This listing of side effects is not all inclusive. Contact your doctor for a complete listing.

Polysorbate 80 Conclusions

This substance is used in a variety of ways, which might make one presume it is perfectly safe. However, when looking at polysorbate 80 from a medical point of view, all its side effects are exposed.

It is possible medical polysorbate 80 has so many side effects because it is more concentrated than in other forms. For more information on polysorbate 80 or other types of polysorbate, use the free supplement finder now!


  • Side Effects
  • Other Names
  • Uses
Contraindicated For Certain Medical Conditions
Respiratory Problems
Carcinogen (Causes Cancer)