Sorbitan esters are non-ionic emulsifiers obtained by the esterification of dehydrated sorbitol with fatty acids. These esters are mostly water-in-oil emulsifiers, but they can also act as oil-in-water emulsifiers when they are used in combination with the ethoxylated sorbitan esters. Sorbitan esters are used in cosmetics, lubricants, textiles etc.
Ethoxylated sorbitan esters are obtained by the ethoxylation of sorbitan esters. They are more hydrophylic than the sorbitan esters themselves and are used as non-ionic emulsifiers and solubilising agents for water insoluble active products and essential oils. In combination with the non-ethoxylated sorbitan esters, they can be used as emulsifiers for oil in water emulsions. Ethoxylated sorbitan esters are used in cosmetics, detergents, lubricants and textile applications.