Is Isopropyl Myristate Comedogenic?

isopropyl myristate comedogenic

You’ve started using a new moisturizer that promises to keep your skin soft, supple and younger for longer, but after a week your face resembles a war zone instead! Pimples have popped up all over it! You want to throw that awful product away and never see it again, but first you need to take a closer look at the ingredient list to find out what the culprit is so that it won’t happen again.

You focus on the first 5 ingredients as those are more likely to cause problems, but you can’t see any of the usual suspects. No silicones, no mineral oil.. but there’s Isopropyl Myristate. Could it be it? And what is it anyway? You do a google search but lots of contradicting information comes up. Some says it is comedogenic, others that it’s perfectly safe. So, what’s the truth?

What’s Isopropyl Myristate and why is in my cosmetics anyway?

Isopropyl Myristate is an ester (a substance formed from the reaction between an acid and an alcohol via the elimination of water) of Myristic Acid, a fatty acid that is found in many foods. In cosmetics, Isopropyl Myristate, which has a silky feeling, is used as a skin and hair conditioning agent. This means that it makes both skin and hair soft, smooth and supple. In addition, it is also used in many creams and lotions to reduce the greasy feel of other oils that are present in the formula. Thus, instead than oily, the cream feels slicker and lighter when you apply it on the skin.

Is Isopropyl Myristate comedogenic?

A few decades ago, several laboratories conducted tests on rabbits to determine whether Isopropyl Myristate was comedogenic. However, the results were contradictory. Some scientists found that Isopropyl Myristate caused the formation of comedones on rabbits’ ears, while others had the opposite results. But whether this ingredient makes rabbits break out doesn’t matter much anyway, because animals and humans are different and just because something is comedogenic for them doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on us. So, does that mean that Isopropyl Myristate isn’t comedogenic?

Personally, I, or better my skin, is sceptical. It is true that there isn’t any scientific proof that says Isopropyl Myristate causes pimples and blackheads yet, but every single time I’ve slathered it on my face, I’ve broken out. At first I thought something else in the formula was causing the problem, but nope. In the past 15 years, in which I’ve tried a gazillion of different products in my search for my HG skincare routine, I’ve learned that my combination skin can tolerate pretty much anything, but not Isopropyl Myristate (nor its cousins Isopropyl Palmitate and Myristyl Myristate). I’ve also learnt that this applies only to my face.

The skin of my body is dry, and there I can slather Isopropyl Myristate on without having to worry about side effects. All I get is soft, smooth skin. Of course this is only anecdotal evidence, but to me it is more than enough to stay away from it and recommend to everyone with combination, oily and acne-prone skin to do the same. Yet, it’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different. Isopropyl Myristate doesn’t work for me, but it may work for you. And if that’s the case, there’s no reason to avoid it.

The Bottom Line

Although there isn’t yet any scientific proof that Isopropyl Myristate is comedogenic, not everyone can tolerate it. Those with combination, oily and acne-prone skin, in particular, should use it with caution.

Does Isopropyl Myristate break you out?

4 Comment

    • Eli, tell me about it! It’s so difficult for me to find skincare products that don’t break me out because most of them seem to contain either Isopropyl Myristate or one of its relatives. Argh! But if you’ve been using it without any side effects, then there’s no reason to stop now.

  1. I just recently found out my new Shiseido spf 50 sunscreen has myristate in it? The box got thrown away so I don’t have the ingredients anymore. I tried looking it up, but I just see the old spf 55 ingredients list. So far, I have not broken out but I use Blue Lizard sensitive skin formula sunblock (I LOVE THIS) and then apply a little bit of the Shiseido one on top to mattify the greasy sunblock on my face (works so well).

    I don’t break out that easily but I have had one giant nasty my chin months ago in October and it’s left a darkened mark there ever since. Advice?
    I do think my old cleanser with myristate at the top of the list broke me out and left me with clogged pores. I stopped using it since the last post about ingredients you avoid and I think my skin’s been better.

    Beauty trick I am in love with lately: Pour some EVOO on a cotton ball and then wet the cotton ball and use it to take off sunscreen or to just clean the face but leave it moisturized though not enough to skip a moisturizer. Warning: I don’t break out very easily and my problem, I’ve discovered as of late, are comodegenic ingredients clogging my pores.
    SO. if you decide to try this (unless you already have), make sure EVOO doesn’t break you out. :O

    Sorry I love your blog too much to not find some time to write.

    • Janessa, it’s difficult to tell without seeing it in person but it sounds like post-inflammatoy hyperpigmentation, which is the red, pink or brown discoloration that’s present after a blemish has healed. If so, this should heal on its own overtime (ie several months). Is that the case? Is it smaller now than it was in October? In any case, you can accelerate the healing process by using an exfoliant with glycolic acid.

      And isn’t olive oil amazing? It just removes everything without drying out skin. I’m glad you love it, and thanks for sharing the tip. :)

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