Isopropyl palmitate is a palm oil-based emollient, derived from coconut oil. It is primarily used as a thickening agent in skincare products like moisturizers, sunscreens, and conditioners. It also acts as a lubricant on the skin's surface, giving it a smoother appearance and transforming the texture into one that is ultra soft. But while isopropyl palmitate is presumed to be safe, there are a few risks to consider before using it on your skin.
Skin and Hair Uses
Isopropyl palmitate is used in skincare to increase the moisture of the skin, making its surface feel smooth to the touch. When the skin is effectively moisturized, its tone can look more even and pore size and fine lines may diminish. Isopropyl palmitate is also believed to benefit the skin by reducing the risk of eczema and dermatitis. This ingredient is also used in haircare to improve luster, quality and silkiness. With regular and correct use, hair will become more manageable, feel softer and become healthier.
Side Effects on Skin
Though isopropyl palmitate may provide many skin benefits, these should be weighed with its potential side effects. Isopropyl palmitate has been known to cause acne, blackheads, whiteheads and clogged pores if overused. Depending on how much of the ingredient is in the product, the skin may experience some irritation. Although presumed to be generally safe for cosmetic use when diluted, the ingredient is highly comedogenic when not diluted and should be avoided by those with oily skin.
Side Effects on Hair
Excessive use of products containing isopropyl palmitate on the hair can give it the appearance of untidiness, greasiness and unruliness. This is caused by an overabundance of moisture in the hair content. Precautions should be taken when using isopropyl palmitate directly on the scalp. If the scalp has an open wound products containing the ingredient should not be used to avoid further irritation.
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Alternatives to Isopropyl Palmitate
While steering clear of products labeled "oil-free" can help to avoid the effects of isopropyl palmitate, these items may still contain synthetic oils. Check the ingredient's list for natural emollients like cold-pressed plant oils. Cocos nucifera, more commonly known as coconut oil, is a suitable alternative. It acts similarly to isopropyl palmitate as an emollient and moisturizer and is more suitable for sensitive, irritated and inflamed skin due to its milder properties.
Emerald Pellot received a bachelor's degree in writing from New York University. Her work has been published in "The New York Observer," The Huffington Post, "BOMB Magazine," PopMatters, Yue and Gurl.com. She is currently senior editor at CollegeCandy.com.