Glyceryl Undecylenate: What Is It, Skin Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

This article was last updated on: October 20, 2023

Skincare can often be a labyrinthine space for the average consumer. The myriad of ingredients listed on the packaging labels might as well be written in another language for those without a solid grounding in cosmetics chemistry or biotechnology.

Among these many ingredients, Glyceryl Undecylenate frequently makes an appearance. Just hearing the name might elicit reactions of bemusement – it certainly doesn’t roll off the tongue easily, and its complex, scientific veneer might perplex the uninitiated!

In this article, we will explore Glyceryl Undecylenate in-depth, casting light on this seemingly obscure ingredient. We’ll delve into its role, why it’s a frequent constituent within various cosmetic products, and the skin benefits it may confer.

What is Glyceryl Undecylenate?

Glyceryl Undecylenate, also known as Undecylenic Acid, Monoester with 1,2,3-Propanetriol, is a common ingredient in skincare and haircare products.

This mightily-named compound belongs to a class of substances known as esters, which are organic compounds produced by replacing the hydrogen of an acid with an alkyl or other organic group.

Glyceryl Undecylenate is primarily used as a skin conditioning agent, emollient, and surfactant-emulsifying ingredient in cosmetics. The underlying science of its functioning revolves around its ability to equip products with a smoother texture, making them easier to apply while providing a more pleasant tactile experience for the user. Moreover, it readjusts the surface properties of other ingredients, enabling them to mix and interact uniformly, thereby enhancing the product’s overall effectiveness.

It’s generally used in concentrations of 0.1-5% and typically features as part of a more comprehensive formula rather than being sold as a standalone due to its dual-action properties (active and non-active).

Who Can Use Glyceryl Undecylenate?

Regarding who can use Glyceryl Undecylenate, the good news is that its usage is quite universal. Its skin conditioning and emollient properties make it appropriate for all skin types – dry, oily, combination, or even sensitive.

From a dietary perspective, Glyceryl Undecylenate is deemed to be suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. This is because it’s a synthetic ingredient derived from bio-based sources rather than being sourced from animals or animal by-products.

In terms of use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, currently, there’s no evidence suggesting Glyceryl Undecylenate poses a risk. That said, it’s always wise to consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist if you have any concerns or are unsure about introducing new ingredients into your beauty regimen.

Glyceryl Undecylenate Skin Benefits

The benefits of Glyceryl Undecylenate for skin health are numerous, thanks to its multi-faceted properties:

  • Skin Conditioning: As a skin conditioner, Glyceryl Undecylenate plays an essential role in maintaining the skin in good condition. It forms a protective layer on the skin’s surface, which acts as a barrier, locking in moisture and preventing dehydration. This layer also protects the skin from environmental pollutants and harmful substances. The result is skin that looks more radiant and healthy, with a noticeable improvement in hydration levels. Over time, this leads to a reduction in signs of dryness and a more youthful appearance.
  • Emollient: The emollient characteristics of Glyceryl Undecylenate add another dimension to its skin benefits. Emollients, by nature, are designed to soften and smooth the skin. In the case of Glyceryl Undecylenate, it does so by filling in any gaps or irregularities between skin cells. This action assists in reducing surface roughness, flaking, and the appearance of fine lines. In addition to smoother skin, the reflective properties of emollients can also improve the skin’s luminosity, lending it a natural glow.

However, it’s important to remember that, as with most skincare ingredients, the beneficial effects of Glyceryl Undecylenate don’t last indefinitely. Once product application ceases, its effects gradually dissipate.

Glyceryl Undecylenate’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

“Non-active” ingredients in cosmetics allude to components that don’t directly alter the structure or function of the skin but contribute significantly to other aspects of the product, enhancing its overall quality and user experience. Here are the non-active roles of Glyceryl Undecylenate:

  • Emulsifying Agent: The primary non-active use of Glyceryl Undecylenate is its function as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers play a crucial role in cosmetic formulations by promoting the mixing of oils and water, two components that would naturally separate. Through this action, Glyceryl Undecylenate ensures that the product remains well-blended and uniform, improving its stability and usability over time.
  • Consistency Controller: Glyceryl Undecylenate also contributes to the control of a product’s consistency. By aiding in the dispersion of different ingredients, it helps achieve a specific texture and feel, whether that’s creamy, lightweight, or somewhere in between. This makes the product easier to apply and more enjoyable to use.
  • Formulation Stabilizer: Beyond enhancing the mixability of various ingredients, Glyceryl Undecylenate also acts as a stabilizer. It plays an essential role in prolonging the shelf-life and preserving the quality of skincare and haircare products, ensuring they remain effective and consistent in their performance over time.

Despite not actively altering the skin, these non-active functions of Glyceryl Undecylenate are fundamental in creating high-quality, effective, and user-friendly cosmetics.

Glyceryl Undecylenate Potential Side Effects

Just as skincare products yield different effects based on individual skin types, reactions to specific cosmetic ingredients like Glyceryl Undecylenate can vary from person to person. This variability is primarily due to the uniqueness of our skin, with factors such as oiliness, sensitivity, and hydration levels playing a role in how we respond to ingredients.

Potential side effects and interactions may include:

  • Skin irritation: Some individuals may experience redness, itching, or a burning sensation.
  • Allergic reaction: In rare cases, individuals may have an allergic reaction, leading to symptoms like hives or rash.

If any adverse symptoms appear while using a product containing Glyceryl Undecylenate, immediate discontinuation is advised. Seeking professional advice from a dermatologist or a healthcare provider is also recommended to mitigate any potential risks.

However, it’s important to note that adverse reactions to Glyceryl Undecylenate are quite unusual. Generally speaking, it is deemed to be a safe and effective ingredient for cosmetic use, recognized for its skin benefits.

Closing the conversation on potential side effects, the importance of patch testing cannot be overstated. It’s a simple procedure that can save you from unnecessary discomfort or skin issues. A patch test is highly recommended before incorporating a new product into your skincare regimen, especially those containing new ingredients for your skin. If you need guidance on how to carry out this test, here’s our comprehensive patch-testing guide to help you through the process.

Comedogenic Rating

Glyceryl Undecylenate boasts a comedogenic rating of 1/5.

This relatively low rating signals that it’s unlikely to clog pores, a critical factor to consider for those prone to acne or breakouts.

A rating of 1 suggests that while it’s not entirely non-comedogenic (which would be indicated by a rating of 0), its potential to cause comedones or contribute to acne development is relatively minimal. Therefore, Glyceryl Undecylenate is generally considered suitable for those with acne-prone skin.


Achieving skincare success often involves a combination of educated trial and error and consistency once you’ve discovered what works best for your skin. An ingredient like Glyceryl Undecylenate could play a significant part in your skincare routine thanks to its active effects that instantly benefit the skin and its non-active roles that boost the overall product experience.

While it’s not the most famous ingredient in the skincare world, Glyceryl Undecylenate’s features echo those of other skin conditioning agents and emollients, making it a beneficial addition to various products. It’s not uncommon to find it in the ingredient lists of several personal care products, though it might be overshadowed by more recognized names.

The timeline to see visible results from using products containing Glyceryl Undecylenate can vary, but skincare typically requires patience. A consistent routine maintained over several weeks or even months will often yield the best results.

If there’s any lingering apprehension about using Glyceryl Undecylenate, it’s worth noting that it’s generally considered safe and effective for the majority of users. Its low comedogenic rating and rarity of side effects make it a relatively low-risk choice, capable of enhancing both your skincare routine and the health of your skin.

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