Ingredient: Palmitic Acid

INCI: Palmitic Acid

Source: Palm Oil

Our rating: GOOD

What is Palmitic Acid?

Palmitic acid is one of several fatty acids used in skincare as an emollient or moisturizer. However, detergents, soaps and cleaning products may use it as a cleansing agent or an emulsifying agent.  Palmitic acid is one of the most common saturated fatty acids in our body lipids.  As we age, the level of palmitic acid can decrease by as much as 56%. Palmitic acid is approved for use up to 13% by the FDA.

Benefits of Palmitic Acid:

Palmitic acid can act as an emollient, softening the skin and help retain moisture by forming an occlusive layer. According to a Korean study published in a 2010 edition of the "Journal of Medicinal Food," palmitic acid does possess antioxidant properties. The antioxidants help prevent free radical damage to maintain youthful radiant skin.

Two main functions of palmitic acid are to act as an emulsifier and surfactant. The low surface tension of palmitic acid allows water to combine with the oil and dirt molecules and wash them away. As a result, palmitic acid helps to remove dirt, sweat and excess sebum from the skin and hair. This makes it a useful ingredient in cleansers, body washes, shampoos and bar soaps.

Palmitic acid helps to combine the water and oil phase of the formulation, enabling the formation of a cream, lotion or any liquid cosmetic. Thus, products that contain palmitic acid require less shaking prior to use and remain more potent when stored for extended periods of time. It also provides an effective occlusive film around the skin, to prevent moisture loss. Palmitic acid is also sometimes used in skincare products to make a clear product more opaque.

Side Effects & Toxicity: An extremely safe ingredient, palmitic acid has no known toxicity in general use and is shown to be non-irritating and suitable for sensitive skin.

Editor’s Note: Palmitic acid is generally used with other fatty acids like stearic acid to create an emulsifying system.