Caprylyl Glycol: What Is It, Skin & Hair Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: October 17, 2023
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Navigating the world of personal care products such as skincare and haircare can often feel like treading into a complex labyrinth. With labels filled with intricate scientific terms and hard-to-pronounce names, understanding the ingredients listed on your favorite cosmetic products can be a daunting task for the uninitiated.

One such name you may have noticed lingering within your cream, serum, or shampoo is Caprylyl Glycol. It may look a mouthful to say and even more complicated to understand — but don’t be too easily deterred by its scientific moniker.

Caprylyl Glycol is a commonly used ingredient in the realm of cosmetics. This article will delve deep into understanding what exactly Caprylyl Glycol is, uncovering the reasons behind its prevalence in your cosmetic products along the way. We will explore its specific functions, possible benefits for skin and hair, and general uses within the cosmetic industry.

What is Caprylyl Glycol?

Caprylyl Glycol, also known by its scientific name, Octane-1,2-diol, is an alcohol derived from caprylic acid – a natural fatty acid found in palm and coconut oils. In a cosmetic context, it serves several key functions, including as a skin conditioning agent, emollient, and deodorant. It is also known for its properties as a hair conditioning agent, making it a versatile addition to various personal care products.

To break it down, Caprylyl Glycol works by providing moisture and conditioning to the skin and hair, enhancing their texture and feel. As a deodorant, it controls odors associated with the human body. It can either be used as a standalone ingredient but is more commonly found in a wider formulation of ingredients. This substance is usually found in concentrations up to 5% in cosmetic products; however, these percentages can vary based on the specific formulation or product type.

Who Can Use Caprylyl Glycol?

Caprylyl Glycol is generally suitable for all skin types, making it a versatile ingredient in a myriad of skincare products. Its moisturizing and conditioning properties make it particularly beneficial for consumers with dry or sensitive skin.

In terms of dietary preferences, Caprylyl Glycol is compatible with vegan and vegetarian lifestyles since it can be derived from plant sources. It is, however, always a good practice for consumers to check the source of Caprylyl Glycol in specific products if they wish to adhere strictly to their dietary preferences.

As for pregnant or breastfeeding women, there is no specific indication that Caprylyl Glycol would be harmful. However, as with any cosmetic ingredient, it is recommended that women in these categories consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating new products into their regimen.

Caprylyl Glycol Skin Benefits

Below is a complete breakdown of all the benefits this ingredient can offer your skin:

  • Skin Conditioning: Caprylyl Glycol acts as a highly effective skin conditioning agent, working diligently behind the scenes to enhance your skin’s overall appearance. This ingredient aims to make your skin feel noticeably softer and smoother to the touch. The science behind this involves its function as a humectant, a component that actively draws moisture from the surroundings and locks it into the skin. Caprylyl Glycol’s humectant properties allow it to retain this moisture, preventing it from evaporating and keeping the skin highly hydrated. This diligent moisture preservation contributes to a supple and revitalized complexion, enhancing the skin’s natural glow and reducing the appearance of dullness and dry patches.
  • Emollient: As an emollient, Caprylyl Glycol further fortifies its ability to condition your skin. Emollients work by forming a protective layer on the skin surface, much like a shield that locks in the existing moisture while simultaneously reducing the rate of water loss. This dual action ensures your skin remains hydrated for extended periods. The result of this shield is a visible transformation in the skin’s texture, where it feels soft, smooth, and supple to the touch. Emollients provide more than just temporary relief. They progressively improve the skin’s overall health by providing sustained hydration, hence promoting skin elasticity and giving it a youthful appearance.

It is important to remember, however, that the benefits of Caprylyl Glycol are not permanent. They require a consistent application to maintain these positive effects. The fundamental rule of skincare applies here – regularity is the key to achieving and preserving skin benefits. Once the usage is discontinued, the skin gradually reverts to its pre-treatment condition, and the beneficial effects start to recede.

Caprylyl Glycol Hair Benefits

  • Hair Conditioning: Caprylyl Glycol’s primary benefit in hair care lies in its ability to condition hair. It works by increasing the hair’s ability to hold moisture, thus making it more flexible and less prone to breakage. Conditioning agents like Caprylyl Glycol help to smooth out the hair cuticle, which is the outermost part of the hair shaft. Doing this results in hair strands that are smoother and less likely to entangle, thereby reducing frizziness and giving hair a healthier, more lustrous appearance.

Just as with its effects on the skin, the beneficial effects of Caprylyl Glycol on the hair are not permanent. The conditioned, healthy appearance of the hair will continue only as long as the product containing Caprylyl Glycol is regularly used. Discontinuing the use can lead to the hair reverting to its original state before treatment.

Caprylyl Glycol’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

  • Deodorant: Besides its role as a skin and hair condition agent, Caprylyl Glycol also serves a non-active function in cosmetic products as a deodorant. It achieves this by acting on the bacteria on our skin responsible for body odor. These bacteria decompose the sweat secreted by our body, leading to the emission of unpleasant smells. Caprylyl Glycol inhibits the growth of these bacteria by altering their environment, reducing the odor associated with sweat. Therefore, in products like antiperspirants and deodorants, Caprylyl Glycol serves a dual role of neutralizing bad odors and preventing their formation by stymieing bacteria growth. This makes it an invaluable ingredient in producing many hygiene and personal care products.

Caprylyl Glycol Potential Side Effects

Potential side effects and interactions with Caprylyl Glycol, while uncommon, can include:

  • Skin Irritation: Caprylyl Glycol can cause skin irritation in some rare cases. Symptoms can include redness, itching, or a mild burning sensation.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although infrequent, some people might experience an allergic response to Caprylyl Glycol. Symptoms could include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

If you experience any of these side effects while using a product containing Caprylyl Glycol, it’s important to discontinue use immediately and consult a healthcare professional, especially if symptoms persist or worsen.

Despite the potential for such reactions, it’s crucial to note that adverse reactions to Caprylyl Glycol are rare. Generally speaking, it is recognized as a safe and effective ingredient in the cosmetics industry.

To help avoid any adverse reactions, performing a patch test before incorporating a new product into your routine is critical. This involves applying a small amount of product to a discreet area of your skin and waiting 24-48 hours to see if any adverse reactions occur. For a detailed guide on how to perform a patch test, you can refer to our patch testing guide.

Comedogenic Rating

Caprylyl Glycol has a comedogenic rating of 1/5. This rating indicates that it’s low on the comedogenic scale and is unlikely to clog pores or contribute to acne breakouts.

This low rating is due to Caprylyl Glycol’s unique structure, which allows it to provide hydration and conditioning without leaving a greasy residue or contributing to excess oil production. Therefore, this ingredient is generally suitable for those prone to acne or breakouts, given its low potential for causing pore blockages.


The journey to successful skincare and hair care often involves a balance of experimentation, trial and error, and consistency. Understanding the ingredients in your products is fundamental, and among those key ingredients, Caprylyl Glycol stands out due to its dual active and non-active benefits for both skin and hair.

Caprylyl Glycol holds a commendable position due to its immediate moisturizing and conditioning effects on the skin and hair while concurrently acting as a deodorant in personal care products. This multi-functional ingredient offers many benefits, making it a worthy addition to various cosmetic formulations.

Despite its myriad benefits, Caprylyl Glycol might not be the star of the show in the skincare industry, often overshadowed by more well-known ingredients like hyaluronic acid or retinol. However, its role is similar to these ingredients in terms of providing hydration and conditioning, making it a crucial, though somewhat underappreciated, component in many formulas.

As with most skincare ingredients, results from Caprylyl Glycol are not instantaneous, and it may take several weeks of consistent usage to observe significant changes. Patience and consistency are essential when it comes to reaping the benefits of Caprylyl Glycol.

Any concerns regarding this ingredient should be weighed against its generally safe profile. Its low comedogenic rating and the rarity of adverse reactions make it a reliable ingredient. However, if you have particularly sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, consulting a healthcare or skincare professional before using products containing Caprylyl Glycol would be a wise decision.

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