Palmitic acid - any downsides?

I've been wondering about this for a while. I don't see palmitic acid much in moisturiser ingredients lists, apart from when it's part of an emulsifier (e.g. some of the Lucas Meyer ones) or part of the stearic+palmitic acid combination.

I find it helps with moisturisation of emulsions. Is there any reason it's not used much in general, or as much as stearic acid (I find stearic acid has a "scratchier" afterfeel)? Are there any downsides that I don't know about? Is it drying in the long run or something? Or consumers/marketers just don't like that it has "palm" in the name? I feel like this is something @Pharma knows...

Thank you.

Comments

  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    Palmitic acid is a good builder in structured body wash systems - the kind with spherulite oil loads embedded. It's also a critical element in traditional shave creams with tromethamine. Other than that, stearic has better performance in most applications and is a few shekels per kg less expensive to boot, so that may be why you don't see it as often.
  • suswang8suswang8 Member
    i thought palmitic acid is supposed to be a one-way ticket to acne (in those with acne-prone skin, at least)?
  • GraillotionGraillotion Member
    edited June 25
    Are you meaning palmitic acid as a sole ingredient?  Or also including carrier oils/butters high in palmitic?  You know where I stand on that topic. :) 

    I know it is not the same...but I really like using cetyl palmitate  vs cetyl alcohol.  I feel it makes for a much more elegant end product.
  • Palmitic acid is a good builder in structured body wash systems - the kind with spherulite oil loads embedded. It's also a critical element in traditional shave creams with tromethamine. Other than that, stearic has better performance in most applications and is a few shekels per kg less expensive to boot, so that may be why you don't see it as often.
    Thanks @chemicalmatt, that makes sense.
  • helenhelenhelenhelen Member
    edited June 25
    suswang8 said:
    i thought palmitic acid is supposed to be a one-way ticket to acne (in those with acne-prone skin, at least)?
    I forgot to add to my original post that when I say "moisturisers", I mean body lotions/creams, rather than face. I too have heard that palmitic and stearic acid can clog pores too. But lately I have been using a sunscreen which contains stearic and palmitic acid (plus triethanolamine) and my pores look great. I'm not acne-prone though.
  • Are you meaning palmitic acid as a sole ingredient?  Or also including carrier oils/butters high in palmitic?  You know where I stand on that topic. :) 

    I know it is not the same...but I really like using cetyl palmitate  vs cetyl alcohol.  I feel it makes for a much more elegant end product.
    Yep, I mean palmitic acid as a sole ingredient, which I also found it hard to buy... had to order it from Making Cosmetics in the end... there was nowhere in the UK or Europe that had it. That's compared to stearic acid which is easily obtained everywhere.

    My skin seems to like oils and butters which have higher levels of palmitic acid, which is why I was curious to try palmitic acid as a sole ingredient.

    I tried cetyl palmitate in this version of a body cream I've been making, and it wasn't quite the right feel or moisturisation. But I have tried it in the past where it did better. I am liking behenyl alcohol at the moment.
  • Are you meaning palmitic acid as a sole ingredient?  Or also including carrier oils/butters high in palmitic?  You know where I stand on that topic. :) 

    I know it is not the same...but I really like using cetyl palmitate  vs cetyl alcohol.  I feel it makes for a much more elegant end product.
    Yep, I mean palmitic acid as a sole ingredient, which I also found it hard to buy... had to order it from Making Cosmetics in the end... there was nowhere in the UK or Europe that had it. That's compared to stearic acid which is easily obtained everywhere.

    My skin seems to like oils and butters which have higher levels of palmitic acid, which is why I was curious to try palmitic acid as a sole ingredient.

    I tried cetyl palmitate in this version of a body cream I've been making, and it wasn't quite the right feel or moisturisation. But I have tried it in the past where it did better. I am liking behenyl alcohol at the moment.
    Could you describe what you like about behenyl....and what you switched from?   I have also started using behenyl in my latest hand cream.  But was having trouble putting my finger on what I liked about it.
  • Could you describe what you like about behenyl....and what you switched from?   I have also started using behenyl in my latest hand cream.  But was having trouble putting my finger on what I liked about it.
    I have tried all the fatty alcohols in this body cream (which is mostly for my dry hands) I've been trying to perfect. I moved from cetyl alcohol (too thin, not protective or cushioned enough) to cetearyl (too oily-waxy) to behenyl. The behenyl alcohol has been able to give a softer, more cushioned, velvety afterfeel than cetyl and cetearyl. Also, due to that cushion, it allows the applying hand to smoothly skim over the skin during application which gives an elegant/modern feel. It also works well with more oily/buttery ingredients as all together, they help to form that smooth cushion on the skin. It takes some tweaking to get it to that point. You need to add enough behenyl alcohol for the wax to have enough coverage to give that smooth/skimmable feel without any gaps/skips. But not too much that it gets draggy and whitening. This balance seems to depends on the other ingredients. I've tried some products where I can really feel that softness and elegant cushion of the behenyl alcohol.. and I feel that they are able to pack so much behenyl alcohol in because their other ingredients are very light.. Avene Tolerance Emulsion for example, which is really light and silky to apply but with that soft, cushioned afterfeel (maybe at least 3% behenyl alcohol or more seeing as it's the only wax ingredient?). I can also feel the behenyl alcohol in Augustinus Bader The Body Cream, where they've gone for a heavier, draggy product but with the same soft, cushioned, skimmable afterfeel. It's combined with a lot of shea butter and other waxes so they might have less behenyl than the amount used for the Avene product.

    I was surprised that behenyl alcohol wasn't as draggy or whitening as I thought it would be.

    Is any of the above what you liked about it??   :smiley:
  • GraillotionGraillotion Member
    edited June 26
    Could you describe what you like about behenyl....and what you switched from?   I have also started using behenyl in my latest hand cream.  But was having trouble putting my finger on what I liked about it.
    I have tried all the fatty alcohols in this body cream (which is mostly for my dry hands) I've been trying to perfect. I moved from cetyl alcohol (too thin, not protective or cushioned enough) to cetearyl (too oily-waxy) to behenyl. The behenyl alcohol has been able to give a softer, more cushioned, velvety afterfeel than cetyl and cetearyl. Also, due to that cushion, it allows the applying hand to smoothly skim over the skin during application which gives an elegant/modern feel. It also works well with more oily/buttery ingredients as all together, they help to form that smooth cushion on the skin. It takes some tweaking to get it to that point. You need to add enough behenyl alcohol for the wax to have enough coverage to give that smooth/skimmable feel without any gaps/skips. But not too much that it gets draggy and whitening. This balance seems to depends on the other ingredients. I've tried some products where I can really feel that softness and elegant cushion of the behenyl alcohol.. and I feel that they are able to pack so much behenyl alcohol in because their other ingredients are very light.. Avene Tolerance Emulsion for example, which is really light and silky to apply but with that soft, cushioned afterfeel (maybe at least 3% behenyl alcohol or more seeing as it's the only wax ingredient?). I can also feel the behenyl alcohol in Augustinus Bader The Body Cream, where they've gone for a heavier, draggy product but with the same soft, cushioned, skimmable afterfeel. It's combined with a lot of shea butter and other waxes so they might have less behenyl than the amount used for the Avene product.

    I was surprised that behenyl alcohol wasn't as draggy or whitening as I thought it would be.

    Is any of the above what you liked about it??   :smiley:
    Awesome description.  The hand cream I am working on has 3.6% fatty alcohol, with behenyl being twice as much as Cetyl.  I think you have given me courage to try doing 100% behenyl.

    I just got two new crosspolymers today....which felt absolutely astounding neat on the skin....and monumentally better than the first one I bought.  So I will have to run those through the formula...and I will try removing the cetyl and going with 100% behenyl.

    Thank you so much for your detailed description.  This is that Illipe butter hand cream I mentioned a while back.  It has some candelilla, glyceryl oleate, and polyisobutene in it...., so getting some really good moisturizing.   Plus I think I have stumbled across some synergies with HA and various silicones.
  • Awesome description.  The hand cream I am working on has 3.6% fatty alcohol, with behenyl being twice as much as Cetyl.  I think you have given me courage to try doing 100% behenyl.

    I just got two new crosspolymers today....which felt absolutely astounding neat on the skin....and monumentally better than the first one I bought.  So I will have to run those through the formula...and I will try removing the cetyl and going with 100% behenyl.

    Thank you so much for your detailed description.  This is that Illipe butter hand cream I mentioned a while back.  It has some candelilla, glyceryl oleate, and polyisobutene in it...., so getting some really good moisturizing.   Plus I think I have stumbled across some synergies with HA and various silicones.
    Sounds worth trying 100% behenyl. I personally found behenyl on its own nicer feeling than behenyl + cetyl as the cetyl reduced the cushiony coverage, making it less smooth (more gappy/skippy). But that was with a lower level of behenyl than you are already using. Someone on this forum described behenyl alcohol as "bouncy" which I think is a good way to describe how it feels in a cream.

    I think I will have to try the glyceryl oleate. I've seen it before but wasn't sure if it was anything I needed at the time.
  • @Graillotion Something I have noticed recently about behenyl alcohol is that despite its cushion, it can feel quite "empty" on the skin compared to cetearyl alcohol... it misses a deeper adhesiveness which I think comes from the stearyl alcohol in cetearyl alcohol.
  • abieroseabierose Member
    @Graillotion Something I have noticed recently about behenyl alcohol is that despite its cushion, it can feel quite "empty" on the skin compared to cetearyl alcohol... it misses a deeper adhesiveness which I think comes from the stearyl alcohol in cetearyl alcohol.
    Have you noticed this "empty" feeling with Cetyl Alcohol as well? Lately I have experienced that same "empty" feeling with a few of my latest formulations and I have been using cetyl instead of cetearyl in these formulations...could this be all or part of the reason I am also getting that "empty" "meh" kind of feeling from them now...?
  • abierose said:
    @Graillotion Something I have noticed recently about behenyl alcohol is that despite its cushion, it can feel quite "empty" on the skin compared to cetearyl alcohol... it misses a deeper adhesiveness which I think comes from the stearyl alcohol in cetearyl alcohol.
    Have you noticed this "empty" feeling with Cetyl Alcohol as well? Lately I have experienced that same "empty" feeling with a few of my latest formulations and I have been using cetyl instead of cetearyl in these formulations...could this be all or part of the reason I am also getting that "empty" "meh" kind of feeling from them now...?
    Yes I can’t use cetyl alcohol (instead of cetearyl alcohol) for that reason.. it just isn’t protective enough on my (dry) skin… it’s quite “airy” compared to cetearyl alcohol which has a more substantive waxy feel. Cetearyl alcohol feels more emollient and occlusive on my skin as well, and helps hold the moisture in.

    Cetearyl alcohol also gives a glossier, more opaque look to my creams. Sometimes I find cetyl alcohol gives a chalky look in the pot, but with translucency on pickup… a less professional/premium experience.

    Maybe try switching back to cetearyl alcohol to see if it helps with the “meh” feeling.

    I’ve got some stearyl alcohol coming tomorrow as I’m interested to see what it feels like on its own, without cetyl alcohol.
  • abieroseabierose Member
    abierose said:
    @Graillotion Something I have noticed recently about behenyl alcohol is that despite its cushion, it can feel quite "empty" on the skin compared to cetearyl alcohol... it misses a deeper adhesiveness which I think comes from the stearyl alcohol in cetearyl alcohol.
    Have you noticed this "empty" feeling with Cetyl Alcohol as well? Lately I have experienced that same "empty" feeling with a few of my latest formulations and I have been using cetyl instead of cetearyl in these formulations...could this be all or part of the reason I am also getting that "empty" "meh" kind of feeling from them now...?
    Yes I can’t use cetyl alcohol (instead of cetearyl alcohol) for that reason.. it just isn’t protective enough on my (dry) skin… it’s quite “airy” compared to cetearyl alcohol which has a more substantive waxy feel. Cetearyl alcohol feels more emollient and occlusive on my skin as well, and helps hold the moisture in.

    Cetearyl alcohol also gives a glossier, more opaque look to my creams. Sometimes I find cetyl alcohol gives a chalky look in the pot, but with translucency on pickup… a less professional/premium experience.

    Maybe try switching back to cetearyl alcohol to see if it helps with the “meh” feeling.

    I’ve got some stearyl alcohol coming tomorrow as I’m interested to see what it feels like on its own, without cetyl alcohol.
    Oh my goodness, thank you for that feedback! I have been seriously wondering why I wasn't getting the same moisturizing effect anymore! I will definitely be swapping back out cetyl for cetearyl! I have also been meaning to get some behenyl alcohol as well as stearyl alcohol to experiment with too. Thanks again for your insight!
Sign In or Register to comment.