A clear, colorless liquid that is commonly used as an emollient. It is made up of pure hydrocarbons and leaves a dry feeling on the skin upon application. It also increases the spreadability of a product.
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What is Isohexadecane?

Isohexadecane is a synthetic ingredient derived from crude oil. While its origins might not seem particularly glamorous, it’s been part of the cosmetic industry for quite some time now, mainly due to its distinctive properties which make it an ideal inclusion in various formulations.

Isohexadecane belongs to a class of chemicals known as hydrocarbons. This clear, colorless liquid, known for its low viscosity and high spreading capacity, is valued for its remarkable abilities as an emollient and solvent.

The compound's origin dates back to the mid-20th century when scientists sought alternatives to natural oils. They developed isohexadecane to provide the same benefits without the potential drawbacks of these natural substances, such as instability or allergic reactions.

Over time, it has become a key player in the formulation of a range of products, from makeup and sunscreens to hair and skincare items.

Isohexadecane in Skincare

Used primarily as an emollient and solvent in skincare products, isohexadecane has made its way into a wide array of personal care items, including creams, lotions, and makeup.

As an emollient, it helps to soften and smooth the skin. It enhances skin's softness and smoothness by filling in gaps between skin cells on the surface layer of the skin. This unique property makes isohexadecane particularly beneficial for improving skin's texture, resulting in a softer, smoother, and more appealing touch.

In addition to smoothing out the skin due to its emolliency, isohexadecane also serves as an excellent solvent. It is capable of dissolving a wide variety of oils and oil-soluble ingredients. In fact, this ingredient is even used as a waterless cleansing agent on occasion to dissolve oils and makeup from the skin.

Moreover, due to its low viscosity and silky feel, isohexadecane is used in skincare products to enhance spreadability and create a non-greasy, light texture. It has a unique, dry-touch finish that gives products a luxurious and lightweight feel on the skin, without leaving a greasy or heavy residue.

Isohexadecane isn’t only found in skincare products. You’ll also find this ingredient in a range of other personal care items, such as hair care products, where it serves as a conditioning agent, and in makeup, where it helps to improve the product's spreadability and staying power.

Is Isohexadecane Safe for Skin?

The safety of skincare ingredients is a top priority for users and manufacturers alike. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel, isohexadecane is considered safe for use in cosmetics and skincare products. It's non-toxic, non-irritating, and non-sensitizing, making it suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

Isohexadecane is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores. This makes it suitable for people with acne-prone skin.


IsoParaffins. CIR Safety Report. 2010