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New Contributor

Hi! I’m debating including coconut alcohol in my moisturizer as an emulsifier but am concerned about comedogenicity. I’m trying to find the molecular structure and coming up empty.

I know it’s derived from coconut acid and believe the triglycerides are removed but just coming up short. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I understand cetyl, cetearyl, cetostearyl, and cetyl alcohol 40 are all derived from coconut oil and carry a low comedogenicity. I just really want to be able to explain (and understand!) why this ingredient is ok for acne prone skin (or just leave it out of the moisturizer completely!)

Thank you so much for your time,

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6 Replies
Contributor III

Re: Hi! I’m debating including coconut alcohol in my moisturizer as an emulsifier but am concerned about comedogenicity. I’m trying to find the molecular structure and coming up empty.

Dear Mon,

I think that you are confusing the coconut products.  I make "coconut wine" - lambanog - and other products from my coconut plantation in the Philippines.  It sounds like you are looking for "virgin coconut oil" (VCO) which is a popular moisturizing agent.  Coconut alcohol is still ethyl alcohol (ethanol).  It is just fermented from the coconut palm sap instead of other starting materials.  I have dabbled in coconut oil, but do not produce it commercially.  VCO is produced by squeezing the oil out of coconut pulp. Some of the purification issues with VCO have to do with its stability over time rather than any particular treatment for desired properties.  A search for VCO may yield more information in this case.

Best regards,

Steven

New Contributor II

Re: Hi! I’m debating including coconut alcohol in my moisturizer as an emulsifier but am concerned about comedogenicity. I’m trying to find the molecular structure and coming up empty.

I think Mon is asking about coconut oil carboxylic acids that have been reduced to alcohols. What is the proper terminology for that?  Virgin coconut oil would be mostly triglycerides, wouldn't it?

Contributor III

Re: Hi! I’m debating including coconut alcohol in my moisturizer as an emulsifier but am concerned about comedogenicity. I’m trying to find the molecular structure and coming up empty.

Dear Mon,

I'm not sure WHY you'd want the alcohols instead of the triglycerides as emulsifiers... but anyway, here are some sources for the relevant information you may need:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil

http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Di-Fa/Fats-and-Fatty-Acids.html


 

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New Contributor II

Re: Hi! I’m debating including coconut alcohol in my moisturizer as an emulsifier but am concerned about comedogenicity. I’m trying to find the molecular structure and coming up empty.

If this is for personal care use, then the comment/reply about the fatty acids converted to fatty alcohols is a great answer. Since you are on the ACS forum, that probably means you are a chemist and can utilize/understand the links and details provided in the replies. For a personal care applications viewpoint, you can always contact jdallal@ashland.com for formulation guidance. If you want to take classes or go to monthly meetings to learn new or basic technologies, www.scconline.org.

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New Contributor III

Re: Hi! I’m debating including coconut alcohol in my moisturizer as an emulsifier but am concerned about comedogenicity. I’m trying to find the molecular structure and coming up empty.

In the personal care/surfactants arena many ingredients may be named coconut or coco because they are derived from coconut oil.  However, this is also used as short-hand to designate that the long chain compound is a mixture of chain lengths centering around C12 or C14.  (See the Wikipedia article on coconut oil, near bottom of the page for the distribution of fatty acid chains constituent to coconut oil: Coconut oil - Wikipedia ) This is because coconut oil fatty acids are richest in C12/C14. And while it may be mostly C12/C14, there will also be C8, C10, C16, C18 compounds present as well. This is as opposed to a pure single compound made in the lab which would be designated tetradecanol or dodecanol to designate that is is not a distribution.   The "cetyl", "cetearyl", and "cetostearyl" are also common names in the surfactant area which designate compounds which are a distribution of chain lengths but are centered around C16 (cetyl) or C18 (stearyl).  These can be derived from any fat or oil that contain these chain lengths as starting materials so you cannot say with certainty just from these names that they are derived from coconut oil - the names are generic to the final product and not indicative of the fat/oil source.  (In the beginning of this nomenclature it did tell what the starting material was  - cetyl from whale oil, stearyl for beef (steer) fat but this is not true any more - it refers simply to the chain length now.) If you are talking about the alcohol derived from "coconut acid" you might want to know that instead of using "coco", "lauryl" is used for C12 compounds and "myristyl" for C14.  I am sure you can easily look up lauryl alcohol or myristyl alcohol properties.

Also it has not had "the triglycerides removed".  It has no triglycerides because the triglyceride has been broken down to the constituent fatty acids (saponification) and then the fatty acids made into derivatives.

It is not the source material of the compound that determines its characteristics (like emolliency or comedogenicity) - it is the compound itself.

New Contributor

Re: Hi! I’m debating including coconut alcohol in my moisturizer as an emulsifier but am concerned about comedogenicity. I’m trying to find the molecular structure and coming up empty.

Dear Mon,

   Here are two additional resources which might help shed light into your quest for clarification of ingredients/chemicals in cosmetic formulations:

1) Dr. Perry Romanowski has a great website rich of resources -- Chemists Corner – Cosmetic science resource site where you can learn all about cosmetic chemistry

2) Environmental Working Group hosts a huge database of chemicals commonly used in all types of formulations -- https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/#.W0ODqNJKiUk

  Best of luck in your adventure making formulations.

Sincerely,

Mike

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