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Myristic acid: Why is it good for skin?

Myristic acid molecular model

With the rise of awareness and general knowledge about skincare ingredients, it’s hard to know where to draw the line between safety and effectiveness. But one ingredient that is wildly used in cosmetics is myristic acid. But is it actually good for the skin?

Relatively inexpensive and easily sourced, myristic acid functions as an emollient that forms a protective layer on the skin, repairing, regenerating and preserving its natural moisture barrier, giving the skin a smooth and soft appearance.

So, what is myristic acid? What is its function in beauty products? And, what are its uses? Scroll down to find out.

What Is Myristic Acid?

Myristic acid, also known as tetradecanoic acid, is a 14-carbon long saturated fatty acid with a molecular formula of C14H28O2. Names after nutmeg, also known as Myristica fragrance, an evergreen tree native to the Moluccas of Indonesia, it is found in natural oils and butter such as murumuru butter (15-33%), ucuuba butter (72-76%), tucuma butter (16-34%), coconut oil (17-21%) and palm seed oil. 

In its purified form, myristic acid can appear white to fainty yellow solid, glossy crystalline solid or white to yellow powder with a velvety texture. 

Its Function

Myristic acid and myristates, salts and esters derived from myristic acid, are wildly used in cosmetics to preserve the skin’s natural moisture barrier, thicken the cosmetic formula, enhance the penetration of other ingredients, skin conditioning agent and reduce the greasy feeling of products rich in oils.  

They are often used as:

  • Anti-caking agents prevent powdery products such as makeup from absorbing water and formatting lumps. 
  • Cleansing agents remove dirt and other impurities from skin and hair; however, they can be drying for the skin. 
  • Emollients hydrate and soften the skin. 
  • Emulsifying agents are binding agents that prevent cosmetics that include water and oils from separating.
  • Film formers, valued for their water-binding properties, form a supple layer on the skin, giving it a smooth and silky effect. 
  • Hair conditioning agents to improve the feel and the appearance of hair. Furthermore, they are also useful for protective, replenishing and repair benefits.  
  • Opacifying agents give personal care products an opaque appearance to hide blemishes, for example. 
  • Slip modifiers for cosmetic products to spread across the skin more easily. 

Uses and Application of Myristic Acid in Skincare

Wide range of benefits that myristic acid and its derivatives offer makes it a perfect candidate for inclusion in many skincare products. Relatively inexpensive and easily sourced, it is wildly used in many cosmetic products such as:


Myristic acid is a common ingredient used in cosmetics. It is a transparent cosmetic that provides better coverage. It hides acne and blemishes and provides a much better look than concealer and foundation. 

Facial cleansers

Due to its ability to wash away oils, myristic acid is a common ingredient in facial cleansers. The component works to remove moisture and grease from the skin, making the skin smooth, soft and clean. 


Myristic acid has conditioning properties; hence, it is an ideal hair conditioning agent that keeps the hair healthy and hydrated. 

Makeup powders

Myristic acid is used to thicken up the makeup powders. The powdery substance ensures a flawless finish to the makeup and keeps it from rubbing off during the day.


Appreciated among soap makers for its foaming capabilities, myristic acid and its derivatives also add cleansing ability, soft leather feel and hardness to soaps. 

Shaving lotions

Myristic acid and myristates are the perfect ingredients for formulating shaving creams due to their emollient properties. It is responsible for creating a rich foam that lubricates the skin surface while retaining its natural moisture. 

Skin creams

The tightly packed fatty chains of myristic acid keep the lipids on the skin’s surface intact, protecting it from harsh elements and ensuring smooth texture. In addition, due to its anti-inflammatory action, it can help repair and regenerate the skin barrier. 

What Skin Types Would Benefit Most from Using Myristic Acid?

Anyone with dry skin will find myristic acid to be an excellent moisturiser. However, those with oily and acne-prone skin may wish to stay clear of the acid or its derivatives. Myristic acid is highly comedogenic and likely to cause breakouts. 

Myristic Acid vs Lauric Acid

Mystic acid is used in many products, including makeup, detergents, hair care products, and many others. Myristic acid and lauric acid can also be separated and form a mixture of other fatty acids.

Here is a brief detail on myristic acid and lauric acid, explaining the difference between the two.

1.  Lauric acid, also known as dodecanoic acid, and myristic acid, also known as tetradecanoic acid, are both saturated fatty acids. 

2. Lauric acid consists of 12 carbon atom chains, while myristic acid consists of 14 carbon atom chains.

3. The salts of myristic acid are known as myristates. 

The salts of lauric acid are known as laureates

4. Lauric acid is naturally present in vegetable fats, including palm kernel oil, laurel oil, and coconut oil. 

Myristic acid also occurs in plants and animals, notably butter, coconut oil, and mammalian milk.

5. Myristic acid and lauric acid are the prime saturated fatty acid. They are advised to be excluded from the diet as they are associated with high serum cholesterol levels in humans.


Excellent emollient, moisturizing and conditioning properties make this fatty acid a key ingredient in cosmetics. Highly beneficial, it is widely used in skincare products to keep skin healthy and hydrated.


  1. Myristic Acid
  2. Final report of the amended safety assessment of myristic acid and its salts and esters as used in cosmetics

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