Cetearyl alcohol (also known as cetostearyl alcohol and cetylstearyl alcohol) is a blend of cetyl and stearyl alcohols that we can use at up to 25% in our creations. It’s an emollient, meaning it will confer moisturizing to your skin, and it can be used in conjunction with a low HLB emulsifier to create an emulsification system (the HLB is 15.5).
It has a melting point of 49˚C to 58˚C (120.2˚F to 136.4˚F). It can feel waxy and slightly occlusive on our skin thanks to this higher melting point and the residue left behind after rubbing it into our skin.
It’s often part of what we call emulsifying wax NF (INCI: Cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60, which are both high HLB emulsifiers, so it’s a curious combination indeed!)