Decyl Glucoside: The Little Known Surfactant That May Be In Your Skincare. Is Decyl Glucoside The Next Best Thing For Soaping Sensitive Skin?



What Is Decyl Glucoside?

Decyl glucoside is a naturally-derived surfactant used in shampoos, body washes, cleansers and liquid soaps. Surfactants are a class of ingredient that helps to lift dirt and oil from the skin, allowing it to be rinsed away. 

Decyl glucoside also has the ability to produce a nice foam, giving it an enjoyable sensory feel. Given that decyl glucoside is also gentle on the skin, compared to some other surfactants that are used, it makes it a good option for sensitive skin types. 

Decyl glucoside is derived from plant-based sources of fats, alcohols and sugar such as those found in coconut, palm kernel oil and corn sugars. 

For those who enjoy a little chemistry, decyl glucoside is an alkyl glucoside made from reacting glucose with a fatty alcohol.

Decyl glucoside

the good: Decyl glucoside is mainly used as a surfactant, helping to lift dirts and oils from the skin, allowing them to be easily rinsed away.

the not so good:Nothing to report here.

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:For those with sensitive skin, formulations with decyl glucoside may be gentler on the skin.

What Are The Benefits Of Decyl Glucoside?

The main benefits of decyl glucoside are that it is a gentle surfactant and it improves the foaming of a product. 

Surfactants help to reduce the surface tension between two phases, for example between a liquid and a solid or between two liquids. This allows surfactants to list dirt and oils from the skin so that they can be rinsed away. Many surfactants currently used are mildly irritating to some skin types. The benefit of a gentle surfactant is that it is less likely to irritate the skin. 

The other benefit is that it improves the foam that is produced when using the product. The foam helps to disperse the formulation across your skin and improves the feel and enjoyability of a product. 

Is Decyl Glucoside Good For The Environment?

Decyl glucoside is considered a sustainable alternative to conventional surfactants. 

As decyl glucoside is a naturally-derived ingredient it is often considered a more sustainable alternative to conventional surfactants. However, while this may be true it is important to remember that just because it is naturally-derived doesn’t mean that it is good for the environment. 

 Often naturally sourced ingredients put extra strain on the environment as they need land for crops, transportation, processing and often are grown in areas where worker’s rights aren’t respected. This is why synthetic ingredients may have the upper hand against naturally-derived ingredients. 

Is Decyl Glucoside Vegan?

Decyl glucoside is a vegan ingredient as it is produced without the use of animal or animal byproduct ingredients. If you are looking for a vegan product, always check the other ingredients in the product and ensure that the company doesn’t test their products on animals. 

Is Decyl Glucoside A Sulfate?

Short answer, yes, however not all sulfates are created equal. Decyl glucoside is made from sodium coco-sulfate a derivative of coconuts and while it is less irritating than other sulfates it is considered a  sulfate. 

The marketing claim that products are sulfate-free plays into the fear-mongering that has, unfortunately, played a significant role in the clean beauty movement. Not all sulfates are irritating to the skin and are a broad range of ingredients that have slightly different benefits and side effects. While it may seem appealing to avoid a potentially harsh ingredient, unfortunately some of the ‘natural’ ingredients that are used to replace sulfates can end up being more irritating and harsh. 

Is Decyl Glucoside Safe?

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for the independent review of the safety and efficacy of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has evaluated decyl glucoside. The Expert Panel reviewed decyl glucoside and 19 related ingredients and found it to be safe in its current concentrations and uses when formulated to be non-irritating. 

Like any ingredient you can be allergic to decyl glucoside or have a hypersensitivity to the ingredient. If you suspect this may be the case, discontinue its use and speak with your health professional.  

CIR, 2013. ‘Safety Assessment of Decyl Glucoside and Other Alkyl Glucosides as Used in Cosmetics’, International Journal of Toxicology’.


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