C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Sounds Scary Right? But Why Is C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate Used? - The Dermatology Review

C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Sounds Scary Right? But Why Is C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate Used?



What Is C12-15 alkyl benzoate?

C12-15 alkyl benzoate is a synthetic ingredient that is used as an emollient and texture enhancing ingredient in a variety of cosmetics and skincare products.

C12-15 alkyl benzoate is part of a group of ingredients called alkyl benzoates. As a class of ingredient, alkyl benzoates are used to improve the stability, texture, and scent of products. C12-15 alkyl benzoate is a low molecular weight ester of benzoic acid and long-chain alcohols. Benzoic acid is a natural ingredient that can be obtained from several types of fruits and vegetables, such as cranberries, prunes, plums, cinnamon, ripe cloves, and apples. The ‘C12-15’ in the ingredient name indicates that the alcohols have carbon chain lengths from 12 to 15. C12-15 alkyl benzoate is a clear, oil-soluble liquid.

C12-15 alkyl benzoate

the good:Improves the texture and feel of the formulation.

the not so good:Alkyl benzoates are considered to be non-irritating and safe for use.

Who is it for?All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients

Keep an eye on:Keep an eye out for other alkyl benzoates.

Why Is C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate Used?

In cosmetics and skincare products, C12-15 alkyl benzoate functions as an emollient, texture enhancer, and antimicrobial agent. It is used in a wide variety of products, such as sunscreens, baby products, bath products, antiperspirants and deodorants, eye makeup, lipstick, foundations, and tinted moisturizers, shaving products, hair styling products, and more.

As an emollient, C12-15 alkyl benzoate helps to keep the skin moist and supple by reducing water loss from the outer layers of the skin. Emollients form a protective barrier on the surface of the skin, trapping moisture and preventing water loss to the air.  Emollients also help to improve the texture and performance of a product by acting as a lubricant. A lubricant reduces friction when anything rubs against the skin. These functions allow C12-15 alkyl benzoate to keep the skin moisturized and also help repair the appearance of the skin. 

While all skin types can benefit from emollients like C12-15 alkyl benzoate, emollients are very beneficial for those who have dry, rough, and/or flaky skin. Emollients help to leave the skin looking and feeling soft and smooth. In addition, emollients may benefit those that suffer from conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or other inflammatory skin condition.

C12-15 alkyl benzoate can also be classified as a texture enhancer. It imparts a soft and velvety feel to the skin and has improves spreadability. C12-15 alkyl benzoate also functions as an effective thickener when added to gels, creams, and lotions. C12-15 alkyl benzoate has excellent solubility in oil and is often used in sunscreens because it helps keep the active ingredients dispersed throughout the formula.

C12-15 alkyl benzoate can be used to improve the scent of products. While C12-15 alkyl benzoate is not a direct fragrance it improves the scent by increasing the longevity of the scent in the formulation. 

Research suggests that C12-15 alkyl benzoate may also have antimicrobial properties, reducing the likelihood of the growth of bacteria and mold in formulations due to contamination. However, there is limited data on which microorganisms this ingredient is effective against.

Is C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate Drying?

Since C12-15 alkyl benzoate is an ester that is composed of various long-chain alcohols, this ingredient is often misunderstood to be bad for the skin. It is true that some alcohols, like ethyl or rubbing alcohol, can be extremely drying to the skin. However, quite the opposite is true for C12-15 alkyl benzoate, which is well known to effectively condition and soften the skin and hair.

Is C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate Safe?

The safety of C12-15 alkyl benzoate and other alkyl benzoates has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients. Due to the low water solubility of long-chain alkyl benzoates, the Expert Panel reasoned that these ingredients were unlikely to be absorbed into the bloodstream, reducing any toxicity of immunity risks. At concentrations used in cosmetic products, C12-15 alkyl benzoate and other long-chain alkyl benzoates are not an eye or skin irritant. These compounds also don’t seem to sensitize or irritate the skin. Overall, the Expert Panel concluded that C12-15 alkyl benzoate and other alkyl benzoates are safe for use in cosmetics.

References:Cosmetic Ingredient Review, 2013. ‘Safety Assessment of Alkyl Benzoates as Used in Cosmetics’, International Journal of Toxicology. 


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