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Sorbitol primarily functions as sugar substitute. You can find sorbitol in diet foods, cough syrups, mints, sugar-free chewing gum, mouthwash, and toothpaste. The sweetness of sorbitol makes this ingredient useful for lip products, such as lip gloss and lip balm.
Sorbitol is also used as a humectant moisturizer in products such as creams and lotions. A humectant is a hygroscopic substance that often has a molecular structure with several hydrophilic groups. This structure allows humectants to attract and retain the moisture in the air nearby via absorption, drawing the water vapor into or beneath the surface. Due to its humectant properties, sorbitol is a useful ingredient for those with dehydrated skin.
.” The epidermis contains natural humectants collectively known as Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). NMF attracts and retains water inside of keratinocytes (skin cells) to aid in keeping skin hydrated. As part of the normal aging process there is a significant decrease in the amount of NMF found in the epidermis, which leads to dryness and ultimately contributes to wrinkle formation. Therefore, applying products that contain humectant moisturizers can keep skin hydrated while working to reduce signs of aging.
As a humectant, sorbitol is often used as an ingredient in soaps, especially as an alternative to glycerin. Glycerin is another humectant moisturizer, but sorbitol is considered to be a less expensive alternative to glycerin.
Another function of sorbitol in cosmetics and personal care products is as a thickening agent. Thickeners and gelling agents in the mixtures of organic solvents and water solutions are widely applied throughout the cosmetic industry due to their ability to provide the products with the desired utility features i.e. consistency, viscosity or adhesion. . .
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