What Is It?

Sorbitol is a polyalcohol. In cosmetics and personal care products, Sorbitol is used in a wide range of products including aftershave lotions, baby shampoos and hair grooming aids. Sorbitol is also used as a sugar substitute and is added to many foods.

Why Is It Used?

Sorbitol is used in cosmetics and personal care products as a flavoring agent, and to prevent moisture loss.

Scientific Facts

Sorbitol is a naturally occurring sugar-like alcohol. It is sweet but is poorly absorbed by the body and this makes it useful as a sugar substitute.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Sorbitol on the list of direct food substances affirmed as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). Sorbitol may also be used as an ingredient in Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug laxative products. The safety of Sorbitol as been assessed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. The review concluded that it was not necessary to limit the dietary intake of Sorbitol and related sugars.

In the Code of Federal Regulations, FDA notes that Sorbitol is used in food at levels not to exceed good manufacturing practices. A maximum level of 99% of Sorbitol may be used in hard candy and cough drops, 98% in soft candy, 30% in jams and jellies, commercial, 30% in baked goods and baking mixes, 17% in frozen dairy desserts and mixes and 12% in all other foods.

FDA also notes that products containing Sorbitol which may result in a daily ingestion of 50 grams of Sorbitol must bear the statement: “Excess consumption may have a laxative effect.

Laxative Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use

Sorbitol may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has not specified an Acceptable Daily Intake for Sorbitol.

More Scientific Information

Sorbitol is also known as D-sorbitol, D-glucitol, sorbol and sorbit. It was first found in the ripe berries of the mountain ash tree Pyrus aucuparia. It occurs in many other berries, as well as in cherries, plums, pears, apples, seaweed and algae. It is prepared synthetically by the hydrogenation of glucose. In cosmetics and personal care products, Sorbitol is used as a flavoring agent, humectant and a skin conditioning agent.