Span 20, is also named as Sorbitan monolaurate and Sorbitan monododecanoate. Sorbitan monolaurate is a mixture of esters formed from the fatty acid lauric acid and polyols derived from sorbitol, including sorbitan and isosorbide. Span 20 is a biodegradable surfactant based on a natural fatty acid (lauric acid) and sugar alcohol sorbitol. It is widely used in personal care products. This sorbitan ester is highly effective at forming oil in water emulsions, particularly when used with its ethoxylated derivative, Tween 20. Most hydrophilic of the range, soluble in many fatty compositions and solvents. Acts as a co-emulsifier in O/W emulsions, suitable for skincare and color cosmetics.
Fig.1 Chemical structure of Span 20.
According to previous research, the addition of S20 to magainin N-lauroylsarcosine (NLS) can both improve the permeability and reduce the toxicity on the skin. Some recent results indicate that a nonionic surfactant may also affect the skin barrier function. In the experiments conducted in vitro on rat skin, it was found that Span 20, Tween 20, and Azone have different mechanisms of enhancement. Span 20 affects the intercellular lipids of the stratum corneum by making them more fluid. This way the diffusion of lipophilic compounds through the stratum corneum (lipophilic pathway) is enhanced.
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