This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!
Ingredient: Caprylyl Glycol
What it is: Caprylyl glycol is an alcohol derived from caprylic acid—a natural fatty acid found in the milk of some mammals, as well as palm and coconut oils. Ours is synthetically made, but nature-identical.
What it does: Caprylyl glycol is an effective conditioner and moisturizer that also helps increase the shelf life of a product by increasing the antimicrobial activity of other preservatives.
Why we use it: Not only is this multitasking antimicrobial conditioning agent plant-based and especially effective at doing its job, it’s also Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved. And their standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available. If they give it a thumbs-up, we do too.
Why we’re featuring it today: Many sites and sources tout the crimes of glycols and warn consumers to avoid them. They’re irritating. They’re harmful to your skin. They’re found in antifreeze! Clearly, with those types of accusations people often ask us why we’d use caprylyl glycol. But here’s the deal: Glycols are a broad class of chemicals and they are not created equal.
“Glycol” simply means that the chemical structure of the ingredient contains two hydroxyl groups (made up of oxygen and hydrogen). As you can guess from that broad of a definition, this class of chemicals includes tons of compounds: propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, butylene glycol, diethylene glycol, ethylene glycol (the notorious antifreeze ingredient), and more.
Caprylyl glycol is just one of many glycols and, while some may be nasty and undesirable in body care products, this one is not. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel reviewed all available data just last year and assessed this ingredient as safe as currently used. It also gets the aforementioned seal of approval from the scientists at Whole Foods, which makes this ingredient as good as gold in our book.
Have any other questions about caprylyl glycol? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to respond!