What Is Isopropyl Palmitate?

Isopropyl palmitate is designed to make the skin soft and supple.
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  • Written By: Janis Adams
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2014
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An easily spreadable man-made moisturizer, isopropyl palmitate is a compound of isopropyl alcohol and palmitic acid. The palmitic portion of the formula contains a major fatty acid, composed of vitamin A and an antioxidant. This formulation easily penetrates the skin, and is designed to make it softer and more supple.

When initially applied, cosmetics containing isopropyl palmitate sit on the surface of the skin before soaking deep within it. This ingredient is classified as an emollient, a substance that corrects dryness and softens the skin.

Due to the fact that this moisturizer contains alcohol, some users find that it causes moderate to severe skin irritation. It is also known to create acne flair ups in some, but not all, of those applying it to their skin. An increase of blackheads and whiteheads can also be a result of the use of this substance because it can clog the pores of the person applying it to the skin. These skin flair ups are also attributed to the high level of viscosity found in the compound.

Admittedly, isopropyl palmitate has a high level of viscosity, which means that it is very thick and resists being diluted. This is the reason it is held at fault for causing skin eruptions, but it is also why many people with dry skin find it an effective treatment. The viscosity is also why it's included in many cosmetic products.


Manufactured from the synthetic alcohol ispropyl and the fatty acid from palm oil, isopropyl palmitate is not considered all natural. While the alcohol portion is synthetic, the palm oil is harvested most often from the rain forests. This harvesting is said to be not only causing the rain forests to diminish, but also to cause a lack of food for orangutans, which most commonly feast on the indigenous palms. Due to this, the use of palm oil for the purpose of creating this particular cosmetic ingredient has come under attack.


Discuss this Article

Post 3

Yes, both isopropyl palmitate and cetyl palmitate has palm oil in it and both are used in cosmetics products. But I personally don't believe that we need to avoid these beauty products altogether because of palm oil.

I read somewhere that out of every ten products we have at the market, one of them has palm oil in it. It's in detergents, bread and our favorite chocolate. We consume much more of these goods than we do isopropyl palmitate in cosmetic products. It's really minimal when compared to all the foods that have palm oil in it.

I also think that rainforest protection and orangutan protection requires us to work on many different factors. Even shrimp production is endangering forests where orangutans live. So leaving all of this and pointing fingers at isoproply palmitate use doesn't make much sense in my opinion.

I think cosmetics with this ingredient is fine for use. Both physicially and consciously.

Post 2

I had no idea that by using moisturizers which have this we are actually responsible for the wiping out of rainforests and endangering the animals that live in it.

How come this knowledge is not more widely dispersed? We use these products everyday but have no idea the consequences it has for the environment.

I guess the only way to avoid this is to stop using products which have isopropyl palmitate. Otherwise, more and more rainforest will be cleared out for palm oil plantations. I'm sure we can replace palm oil with another moisturizing substance for use in skin products.

Post 1

I have one face cream which has this ingredient but I'm not using it right now because I think it irritates my skin. I'm not hundred percent certain whether it's this one ingredient or if another ingredient in the same product is causing irritation. But I have read elsewhere that isopropyl palmitate can irritate skin. It can even cause dermatitis, although that's a rare side effect.

I do like how soft it makes my skin and the softness seems to last longer than some of my other products which don't contain isopropyl palmitate. I might try another product which has this ingredient and see whether I am sensitive to that one as well. If I'm not, I'm going to opt for it because it's really good for my dry skin.

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