Hydrogenated Farnesene: What Is It, Skin & Hair Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: November 22, 2023
Table of Contents

Navigating the world of personal care products, whether skincare or hair care, can often feel like deciphering a cryptic code. Labels are adorned with various ingredients, many with complex names that seem alien to those not versed in cosmetic chemistry. It’s no wonder why many consumers are puzzled about what they are applying to their skin and hair!

In this article, we will be examining the ingredient Hydrogenated Farnesene. Our focus will be on understanding its role and significance in cosmetic products and listing the benefits it can provide.

What is Hydrogenated Farnesene?

Hydrogenated Farnesene, also known under other names such as Dodecane, 2,6,10-trimethyl-, Farnesane, and Trimethyldodecane, plays a multifaceted role in cosmetics.

Its primary function within cosmetic products is as a skin conditioning agent, an emollient, and a solvent. This means that it works to improve the appearance and texture of skin and hair by providing hydration, reducing dryness, and aiding in the dissolution of other ingredients in a formulation.

In terms of concentration, Hydrogenated Farnesene is typically used in the 0.1%-5% range, depending on the product and the desired effect.

It is uncommon to find Hydrogenated Farnesene as a stand-alone ingredient available for consumer purchase; more often, it is integrated into a broader formulation of ingredients, contributing to the overall effectiveness and feel of the product.

Who Can Use Hydrogenated Farnesene?

Hydrogenated Farnesene is a versatile ingredient suitable for a wide range of skin types. Its non-irritating nature makes it appropriate for use in products targeting both normal and sensitive skin. The hydrating and conditioning properties of Hydrogenated Farnesene can benefit dry skin, while its lightweight texture may not overwhelm oily skin types.

For those following vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, the origin of cosmetic ingredients is a crucial consideration. Hydrogenated Farnesene is synthesized in a laboratory setting from essential oils like sweet orange oil, rose oil, and orange oil. This synthesis process ensures that it does not contain any animal-derived components, making it a suitable option for vegans and vegetarians.

Regarding its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is no general contraindication for the use of Hydrogenated Farnesene. However, it is always recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating new cosmetic products into their routine, to ensure safety for both mother and child.

Hydrogenated Farnesene Skin Benefits

Hydrogenated Farnesene, with its unique properties, offers several benefits for the skin, contributing to a healthier and more appealing complexion. Let’s delve into these benefits:

  • Hydration Enhancement: This ingredient excels in increasing skin hydration. By creating a barrier on the skin’s surface, it helps to prevent moisture loss. This barrier effect not only keeps the skin hydrated but also aids in maintaining a balanced moisture level, essential for skin that appears plump and vibrant. The hydration benefit is particularly noticeable in environments that are either excessively dry or cold, where skin is prone to dehydration.
  • Improvement in Skin Texture: Hydrogenated Farnesene’s role as an emollient is significant in improving the feel and appearance of skin. It works by softening the skin and making it smoother to the touch. This effect is due to its ability to fill in the small cracks and irregularities on the skin’s surface, resulting in a noticeably smoother texture. Regular use can lead to a consistent and lasting softness, which is especially beneficial for those with naturally rough or flaky skin.

It is important to remember that these skin benefits are maintained only with consistent use of products containing Hydrogenated Farnesene. Once the use is discontinued, the skin may gradually return to its original state.

Hydrogenated Farnesene Hair Benefits

When it comes to hair care, Hydrogenated Farnesene offers distinct advantages, enhancing both the health and appearance of hair. Here are the key benefits:

  • Moisture Retention for Hair: This ingredient’s ability to retain moisture is as beneficial for hair as it is for skin. It helps in keeping hair hydrated, which is crucial for its overall health and appearance. Hydrated hair is less prone to breakage, appears shinier, and feels softer. This is especially valuable for hair types that are naturally dry or have been damaged by heat styling, coloring, or environmental factors.
  • Improved Hair Texture and Manageability: Beyond hydration, Hydrogenated Farnesene contributes to the manageability and texture of hair. By smoothing the hair’s cuticles, it reduces frizz and makes hair more manageable. This effect leads to hair that not only feels softer but is also easier to comb and style. It’s particularly useful for those with unruly, frizzy, or curly hair, helping to tame and control the hair for a sleeker, more polished look.

As with its skin benefits, the improvements to hair provided by Hydrogenated Farnesene require ongoing application. Discontinuing use may lead to a reversal of these benefits, making continuous application essential for sustained results.

Hydrogenated Farnesene’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

In the realm of cosmetics, “non-active” refers to ingredients that don’t directly contribute to the primary benefits or functions of the product, such as improving skin health or appearance, but play a crucial role in the formulation’s overall effectiveness and sensory attributes. Here are the non-active uses of Hydrogenated Farnesene, particularly focusing on its function as a solvent:

  • Enhancing Product Texture and Consistency: As a solvent, Hydrogenated Farnesene plays a pivotal role in determining the texture and consistency of cosmetic products. It aids in dissolving or diluting other ingredients, contributing to a more uniform and desirable texture. This can range from making a cream smoother and easier to apply, to ensuring a liquid product remains fluid and easy to spread.
  • Stabilizing Formulations: In many cosmetic products, the stability of the formulation is crucial. Hydrogenated Farnesene, by aiding in the dissolution of ingredients that might otherwise separate, helps maintain the stability of the product over time.
  • Improving Product Absorption and Feel: While not directly contributing to the active benefits of the product, Hydrogenated Farnesene can enhance the way a product feels on the skin or hair and how it is absorbed.

These non-active roles of Hydrogenated Farnesene highlight its importance in the overall formulation and user experience of cosmetic products, beyond its direct benefits to skin and hair health.

Hydrogenated Farnesene Potential Side Effects

Reactions to cosmetic ingredients like Hydrogenated Farnesene can vary widely from person to person. This variability is largely due to differences in skin types, sensitivities, and even genetic predispositions.

Potential side effects and interactions of Hydrogenated Farnesene, though rare, might include:

  • Skin Irritation: In some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin, Hydrogenated Farnesene might cause irritation. This could manifest as redness, itching, or a burning sensation upon application.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although uncommon, allergic reactions are possible. Signs of an allergic reaction include severe itching, redness, swelling, or the formation of hives.

If you experience any of these side effects while using a product containing Hydrogenated Farnesene, it is recommended to discontinue use and consult a dermatologist or healthcare provider immediately. They can guide how to treat the reaction and suggest alternative products that might be more suitable for your skin.

It’s important to note that adverse reactions to Hydrogenated Farnesene are rare, and it is generally considered safe and effective for use in cosmetic products.

To minimize the risk of adverse reactions, the importance of patch testing cannot be overstated. This simple procedure allows you to test how your skin will react to a new product before applying it more broadly, reducing the risk of unexpected reactions and ensuring a safer skincare experience.

Comedogenic Rating

Hydrogenated Farnesene is assigned a comedogenic rating of 1 on a scale from 0 to 5, where 0 is non-comedogenic and 5 is highly comedogenic.

This indicates that while there is a minimal chance it could clog pores, the risk is relatively low; this rating is based on its molecular structure and the way it interacts with the skin. Given this Hydrogenated Farnesene is generally suitable for those prone to acne or breakouts.


Success in skincare and hair care often involves a blend of experimentation, trial, and error, and maintaining consistency once effective products are identified. Hydrogenated Farnesene, with its dual role, contributes both actively and non-actively in cosmetic formulations, providing immediate benefits to skin and hair health while also enhancing the overall product experience.

The value of Hydrogenated Farnesene lies in its versatility. It is a multi-functional ingredient that not only improves skin and hair condition but also plays a crucial role in the stability and feel of cosmetic products.

Despite its many benefits, Hydrogenated Farnesene is not widely discussed or as popular as some other cosmetic ingredients. It’s more of an unsung hero in formulations, similar to other less-known but equally effective ingredients like squalane or caprylic/capric triglyceride.

Remember that the time it takes to see results from products containing Hydrogenated Farnesene can vary. Typically, some benefits, like improved skin texture or hair manageability, can be noticed within a few uses, while other effects, especially those related to skin or hair health, may take longer to become apparent.

For those concerned about introducing Hydrogenated Farnesene into their regimen, it’s reassuring to know that it’s generally well-tolerated, with a low potential for irritation or comedogenicity. Its efficacy, coupled with a good safety profile, makes it a worthwhile ingredient to consider in the quest for effective skincare and haircare solutions.

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