Myristyl Myristate - The Dermatology Review

Myristyl Myristate

ARTICLE

09.18.20 AD DISCLOSURE

What Is Myristyl Myristate?

Myristyl myristate is used in a variety of cosmetics and skincare products to improve the texture of formulations and help to keep the skin moisturized and hydrated. Myristyl myristate is generally used as an emollient, texture enhancer, and co-emulsifier.

Myristyl myristate is a naturally derived fatty alcohol. While alcohols are often associated with drying formulations but fatty alcohols are different to other alcohols. Fatty alcohols are a combination of oils and fats with alcohol that actually have hydrating and emollient properties. 

Myristyl myristate naturally occurs in several types of oils and fats. For instance, nutmeg butter is comprised of 75% trimyristin, the triglyceride of myristic acid. In addition to nutmeg, myristic acid is found in palm kernel oil, coconut oil, butterfat, 8 to 14% of bovine milk, and 8.6% of breast milk. Myristyl myristate exists as a white or yellowish waxy solid. Myristyl myristate is most often made from vegetable oils for cosmetic use. 

Myristic acid is most commonly used in eye makeup, moisturizers,  soaps and detergents, hair care products, nail care products, shaving products, and other skincare products. It is typically used at concentrations of 1 to 10%.

Myristyl Myristate

the good:Myristyl myristate is mainly used to help improve the texture of skincare and cosmetic products but also has the added benefit of helping to moisturize the skin.

the not so good:It is not a particularly active ingredient, apart from adding moisture it does little else for the skin.

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:Nothing to keep an eye on here, myristyl myristate is safe and doesn’t cause irritation.

How Does Myristyl Myristate Work?

In cosmetics and skincare products, myristyl myristate functions as an emollient, texture enhancer, and moisturizer.

Moisture
Myristyl myristate is used as a moisturizer in formulations. As an emollient myristyl myristate works to soften and soothe the skin and hair. Emollients work but forming a protective barrier on the surface of the skin. This action helps to trap water in the top few layers of the skin, improving the skin barrier integrity. The skin barrier is the first few layers of the skin and the natural oils that the skin produces that protect the skin from bacteria, allergens, and prevents water loss to the environment. These same properties also help to keep the hair soft, hydrated, and manageable. Myristyl myristate is a soft wax that melts at body temperature, which helps to improve the moisture of the skin and reduce flakiness. 

Texture
Myristyl myristate also functions to improve the texture of formulations. It helps to improve the spreadability of a product, making sure that the product evenly distributes the key ingredients. In certain soap formulations, an excess of myristyl myristate produces pearl effects giving the skin a glossy appearance. Myristyl myristate reduces the watery feel of hand and body lotions and imparts a richness in the sensory feel of the products. Interestingly, the addition of myristyl myristate to an emulsion can take it from dull gray to bright white, making the product look more appealing. 

Stabilizer
Myristyl myristate is also used for its stabilizing benefits. When water and oil-based ingredients are mixed together it is hard to keep them mixed. Myristyl myristate is used to help keep an evenly mixed formulation that prevents separating. The combination of fatty alcohol and fatty acids in myristyl myristate thickens emulsions and improves stability making the emulsion much more stable to temperature variations and higher oil levels. Rather than increasing the amount of emulsifier, which would stiffen the product, a co-emulsifier like myristyl myristate can be used to improve the overall emulsion stability while delivering additional benefits not offered through increased emulsifiers.

Is Myristyl Myristate Safe?

The safety of myristyl myristate has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Both animal and human studies have demonstrated that myristyl myristate does not produce skin irritation or sensitization. Based on these findings, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that myristic acid and its salts and esters were safe as a cosmetic ingredient when it’s used for its approved uses and concentrations. 

References: Cosmetic Ingredient Review, 1982. ‘Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Myristyl Myristate and Isopropyl Myristate’, International Journal of Toxicology, vol.1.
Fulton, J, et al. 1984. ‘Comedogenicity of current therapeutic products, cosmetics, and ingredients in the rabbit ear’, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol. 10, is. 1, pp. 96-105.

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