What Is Isopropyl Myristate & Is It Good For My Skin?

May 29, 2017

An Aesthetician's Review On The Skincare Ingredient, Isopropyl Myristate

A client recently asked me what “Isopropyl Myristate” is and why it's in some Kasnoff Skincare & Cosmetics products.  “Great question”, I responded, “you should always check the ingredient list in your products”.  Truth is, she (and you, too) have probably used something with Isopropyl Myristate (“IM”) in it many times without even knowing it.  It has an incredible ability to moisturize the skin, strengthening the skin’s natural moisture barrier, and helping it stay hydrated to reduce moisture loss.  As such, Isopropyl Myristate is a natural emollient choice for many creams, moisturizers, and serums on the market.  

What It Is

Isopropyl Myristate is a synthetic oil composed of Isopropyl Alcohol (a propane derivative) and Myristic Acid (a naturally-occurring fatty acid).  It is used as an emollient (what softens and soothes the skin), thickening agent (what keeps your product together in a nice whipped appearance), or lubricant (what keeps hydration locked in). It has the ability to reduce the greasy feel caused by the high oil content of other ingredients in a product, making it a fantastic addition to oil control products that have certain ingredients that lubricate and heal, but may also feel heavy on the skin.

IM is believed to have strong skin penetrating properties, too.  This is a valuable attribute, as it can assist other beneficial skin compounds to penetrate more deeply; thus making personal care products more effective, or irritating, depending on the user and the ingredient. This is very important in our Oil Defense Night Cream, which contains Glycolic and Salicylic acid to Target and kill bacteria, control excessive oil production and stimulate cell regeneration. IM allows the hydrating ingredients, such as Hyaluronic Acid (a skin “plumper”), to penetrate more effectively and allowing the AHAs and BHAs, as stated previously, to do their job and treat the the underlying skin condition without overly dehydrating the epidermis.

It’s all about the balance in a skincare product. One ingredient may dry, one may heal, one may plump, but they all interact to create one cohesive and effective product. If one is missing, it might not work as well for your skin.

The Controversy

Many beauty consumers are becoming more conscientious of what's in their products, but rarely check ingredient lists and if they do, hardly understand what it in them. Let’s be real: science serves a purpose in the quality, shelf life, and overall integrity of beauty products. If you don’t want your cream to separate and go “bad” in a month's time, certain man-made ingredients need to be in it.  If you do not want there to be animal bi-products in your facial creams, then science must step in and offer you an alternative.  

In a nutshell, IM is generally considered a safe ingredient at recommended concentrations (less than 5%).  The most common concern with Isopropyl myristate is that it clogs skin (or is comedogenic); however, this assessment comes from dated research that doesn’t apply to how this ingredient is used in today’s cosmetics (see references below). What is most likely happening is because of its ability to efficiently absorb into the skin, it could increase potential side effects from potentially low quality or unhealthy ingredients, such as Triclosan and Triclocarbon, aminophenol, or petroleum distillates.  Or, perhaps you have a sensitivity to another ingredient(s) in the formulation. Whatever the case, unless a new scientific study is released showing the direct effects of IM on a myriad of skin types under specific conditions, then there is no way to justify that it is 100% comedogenic (or 100% non-comedogenic, for that matter).

Everyone’s skin is unique. Something that has no effect on your skin could cause an allergic reaction on another. Just because a product is expensive or well known doesn't mean it is safe for you, either! Always try out a new product for 1 month to see results.

The Verdict

How ingredients interact with each other plays a major part in the science behind a product’s ability to do what it says it is going to do.

Simply trial and test a myriad of beauty products. Your skin cycles through new cells every 30 days. Therefore, you will know within 4 weeks if something is adversely (red spots & pimples), or positively (decrease in fine lines or oil production), affecting your skin.

I scrupulously research each and every ingredient on a product’s label and personally use every single product before placing them on the shelf for my clients. Isopropyl Myristate is in some for a reason but as with everything in life, it might not be right for you. Examine your skin, read your labels, and ask the professionals questions before trying out a new product for optimal results.


Until next time ~
Want to learn more about The Skin Clinic's Founder? Read her story here



https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22614257 - ability to absorb into skin quickly
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/703206/ISOPROPYL_MYRISTATE/ - low risk
http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/338538 - scientific article

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