I love to harness the potent power of gorgeous botanical oils.

Fatty Acids are typically found in animal and plant fats.

They include ingredients such as Glycerides, Sterols and Phosphlipids.

They are used in cosmetics as emollients, thickening and cleansing agents.


Stearic acid: This ingredient is used as an emollient and thickener in skin creams; it helps to keep other ingredients stable.
Caprylic acid: Derived from Coconut Oil, it is considered to be a great thickening agent.
Oleic acid: Derived from vegetable and animal fats, it works as a mild surfactant.
Myristic acid: Derived from Coconut oil, vegetable sources and animal fat. This is a detergent cleansing agent that creates foam in a product; the downside with this ingredient is that it can be quite drying.
Palmatic acid: This is another ingredient that is used as a detergent cleansing agent, it too can also be quite drying on the skin.
Lauric acid: This fatty acid comes from Laurel and Coconut oil.

It should be noted, that a number of saturated Fatty Acids could be comedogenic on the skin, this means they can block pores and cause blackheads.


These are not Alcohols in the true sense of the word.

What is actually meant by this term is the fatty acids have been exposed to hydrogen, this process creates a slightly waxy texture.

In formulas, Fatty Alcohols are used as emollients and thickeners; they help to improve the viscosity or thickness of creams and lotions.

The following Fatty Alcohols are commonly found in skin care products:

Cetyl Alcohol: Used as an emollient, emulsifier, thickener, and a carrying agent for other ingredients.

As an emulsifier it helps to turn a product opaque; this protects it from light exposure, creating a spreading agent.

Originally this ingredient was derived from animal tallow; today it can be sourced as a synthetic.

It is not a known irritant, and is not related to cosmetic ingredients such as Ethyl Alcohol.

Lauryl Alcohol: Derived from Coconut and Palm Seed Oil, it is used as an emollient, spreading agent and surfactant.

Stearyl Alcohol: Derived from Stearic Acid, it is used as an emollient, to help keep other ingredients stable within a formulation.

Cetearyl Alcohol: A Fatty Alcohol used as an emollient, emulsifier, thickener and a carrying agent for other ingredients.

It can be derived naturally as Coconut Fatty Alcohol, or synthetically. Cetearyl Alcohol is a mixture of Cetyl and Stearyl Alcohols.

Oleyl alcohol: This comes from Oleic Acid; it is fattier and greasier then other alcohols.

This ingredient is often used for dry skin emulsions, or for super fatted soaps.


Esters replace the Natural Fatty Esters within our skin, they help to smooth the skin’s texture and act as protection.

They are modified fatty substances; that are often used as emollients and conditioning agents.

An Ester is formed when an organic acid combines with an Alcohol.

The great thing about Esters, is that they don’t feel as oily on the skin, as other types of Emollients and Fatty ingredients.

A tip to spot fatty esters in your skin care products, is that they have the suffix ‘ate’ at the end of it.

Isopropyl Myristate: A synthetic oil used in skin care as an emollient and thickener. It is unique in the fact, that it helps to reduce the greasy skin feel, caused by a high oil content in your formulas.
Isopropyl palmitate: Used in cosmetics, as both a thickening agent and emollient.
Glyceryl stearate: These fall under the family of Glycerol Esters. They are a vast group of ingredients that are a mixture of fatty acids such as Glycerides, mixed together with other non volatile alcohols.

As you know we are all about what goes on, goes in here at The Naked Chemist, so follow the link to find out about healthy edible oils.


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