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Isopropyl Myristate is a synthetic oil used as an emollient, thickening agent, or lubricant in beauty products. Composed of of Isopropyl Alcohol (a propane derivative) and Myristic Acid (a naturally-occurring fatty acid), Isopropyl Myristate is a popular cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredient. It is most often used an an additive in aftershaves, shampoos, bath oils, antiperspirants, deodorants, oral hygiene products, and various creams and lotions.
A unique characteristic of Isopropyl Myristate is its ability to reduce the greasy feel caused by the high oil content of other ingredients in a product. This synthetic oil is often added to beauty products to give them a slicker, sheer feel rather than an oily one. There are many cosmetic ingredients similar in function to this chemical, including Ethylhexyl Stearate, Isocetyl Stearate, Isopropyl Isostearate, and Myristyl Myristate.
Isopropyl Myristate is easily absorbed by the skin, ensuring quick penetration of a formula's ingredients (Source). It is so deeply penetrating that it is also an ingredient in a multi-purpose rust remover, Liquid Wrench (Source). Though it is an effective emollient and valuable absorption carrier, repeated use of products with this ingredient may lead to clogged pores. In more than 5% of formulations, it can cause skin irritation; for this reason, it is considered a comedogenic and is aggravating to acne.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
According to Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, there is strong evidence that products intended for use around the eyes or on the skin, as well as aerosolized products, containing Isopropyl Myristate have been associated with skin, lung, and eye irritation. The CIR has approved Isopropyl Myristate for use in cosmetics (Source), though its quantity should be limited. A study published in Contact Dermatitis in 2004 from two university hospitals in the UK found cases of allergic contact dermatitis in patients who were exposed to both Isohexadecane and Isopropyl Myristate at higher than normal levels of concentration.
It is generally considered a safe ingredient at recommended concentrations. Nonetheless, it should be used with caution by people with normal to oily skin since it is comedogenic and may trigger acne inflammation.
Recommended Products w/ Isopropyl Myristate:
Retrospect Feet, Knees, & Elbows ($38 in the shop), NARSskin EFA Night Infusion, Yes to Carrots Body Moisturizing Lotion, The Real Shaving Company Daily Anti-Wrinkle Cream, L'Oreal EverPure Sulfate-Free Color Care System, Vaseline Sheer Infusion Body Lotion, Votre Vu Moisturizing Body Oil, Mission Skincare Foot Rehab Cream