Myristic Acid: What Is It, Skin Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: August 5, 2023
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We’ve all been there: standing in the cosmetic aisle of our favorite store, scanning the ingredients list on the back of a fancy serum or cream, feeling utterly lost in a sea of scientific names and terms. It can feel like you need a master’s degree in chemistry just to make a choice about which product you should buy. Can anyone truly understand this cryptic code?

One name that might have caught your attention as you scroll down these ingredient lists is Myristic Acid. It sounds like quite a mouthful, doesn’t it? And beyond its daunting name, what does it even do?

Myristic Acid, or Tetradecanoic acid, as it’s known in scientific circles, is more common in the world of cosmetics than you might realize. In this article, we will go on a deep dive into the world of Myristic Acid. We aim to explore what it is, why it’s crammed into your coveted cosmetic products, and how it influences your skincare regimen.

What is Myristic Acid?

Picture the world of cosmetics, where names like Myristic Acid rule the roost. You may also hear about this power player by its scientific alias, Tetradecanoic Acid. This ingredient is a fatty acid that naturally occurs in some foods such as nutmeg, coconut oil, and palm oil. But why is it sprinkled into your skincare products, you may wonder?

The primary role of Myristic Acid in cosmetics is as an emulsifying agent. It aids in the blending of water and oils in a formulation, achieving that perfect silky texture we all love. Additionally, it boasts cleansing properties, making it a popular addition to soaps and facial cleansers. Its perfuming function serves to mask the odors of other high-performing yet not-so-aromatic ingredients.

While you can indeed find Myristic Acid as a stand-alone, it’s commonly incorporated into a broader formulation of ingredients for increased efficiency.

Who Can Use Myristic Acid?

Before choosing any skincare product, it’s essential to understand whether it aligns with your skin type, dietary preferences, or life stage. The beauty of Myristic Acid lies in its compatibility with most skin types, thanks to its gentle nature. Whether your skin is more on the oily side or you have dry or combination skin, Myristic Acid could find a place in your routine. It is especially favored by those looking for a deep cleanse without risking the skin’s natural protective barrier.

For the health-conscious or ethically-minded, you’d be pleased to know that Myristic Acid is frequently derived from plant sources like coconut or palm oil, making it suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.

As for pregnancy and breastfeeding, the general consensus is that Myristic Acid, due to its natural and safe profile, is fine for use. However, as every individual and every pregnancy is unique, it’s always best to consult a healthcare provider before integrating new products into your routine during these critical life stages.

Myristic Acid Skin Benefits

The benefits of Myristic Acid are manifold, and its inclusion in skincare and cosmetics is not without reason. Let’s take a detailed journey into what this powerhouse ingredient brings to the table:

  • Deep Cleansing Properties: One of the core functions of Myristic Acid is its ability to cleanse. It works by effectively breaking down the oily residue and dirt that can become trapped in your pores. How does it achieve this, you might ask? The answer lies in its structure. Myristic Acid possesses a hydrophilic (water-loving) and a lipophilic (oil-loving) end. The lipophilic end binds to oils and dirt on the skin, while the hydrophilic end binds to water. So, when you splash water on your face, the Myristic Acid molecules help wash away the grime, leaving your skin fresh and clean.

It’s worth noting that while these benefits sound promising, they are not permanent. Just like keeping a healthy body requires continuous nutritious eating and regular exercise, maintaining the benefits of Myristic Acid requires sustained use.

Myristic Acid’s Non-Active Cosmetic Uses

Beyond its active benefits for skin health, Myristic Acid also has several non-active functions in cosmetic formulations that help enhance the user experience. Let’s journey through the ways this ingredient boosts the performance of your skincare and beauty products:

  • Effective Emulsifier: A chief role of Myristic Acid in cosmetics is to act as an emulsifying agent. Essentially, it helps mix water and oil—two substances that usually don’t mix—into a consistent blend. It achieves this by reducing the surface tension between these substances, leading to a smooth, creamy texture in your products. What does this mean for your skin? You get a consistent, even application with every use, enhancing the overall efficacy of the product.
  • Perfuming Function: Not all skincare ingredients are created equal, some may have potent benefits but are less than desirable in terms of scent. This is where the perfuming capabilities of Myristic Acid come into play. It masks the natural odors of other ingredients, giving your cosmetic products a neutral or pleasant scent.

In these ways, Myristic Acid triumphantly struts the cosmetic stage, showcasing its prowess not only in active skin benefits but also as the unsung hero in non-active roles.

Myristic Acid Potential Side Effects

It’s important to understand that skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all. What works wonders for one person might be another person’s skin irritant. This variability is partly due to individual factors like skin type, sensitivities, and underlying skin conditions. If you’re uncertain about your skin type, this guide on how to find your skin type could be useful.

While Myristic Acid is generally well-tolerated, as with any ingredient, there may be potential side effects in some individuals:

  • Skin Irritation: In rare cases, Myristic Acid may cause minor skin irritation, especially in those with extremely sensitive skin. Symptoms may include redness, itching, and swelling.
  • Dryness: Given its cleansing properties, Myristic Acid may dry out the skin when used excessively, leading to feeling of tightness or flakiness.

If you experience any of these side effects, it’s crucial to stop using the product immediately and consult a skincare professional or a dermatologist.

However, it’s worth noting that adverse reactions to Myristic Acid are rare. Generally speaking, it’s an ingredient that’s safe and effective for most people.

The key to minimizing the risk of unexpected reactions is to conduct a patch test before incorporating any new product into your routine. By applying a small amount of the product to a discrete area of skin, like behind your ear or inside your wrist, and waiting 48 hours, you can see how your skin reacts to it. For a comprehensive guide on how to perform a patch test, visit our handy patch testing guide.

Comedogenic Rating

When rating the comedogenic, or pore-blocking, propensity of Myristic Acid, it scores a 3 on a scale from 0 to 5. This rating indicates a moderate likelihood of clogging pores. The rating is down to the nature of fatty acids; being lipids, they have the potential to form a barrier on the skin, occasionally trapping sebum and dead skin cells in the pores, which could lead to breakouts.

However, it’s important to note that everyone’s skin responds differently to various ingredients. For those who are prone to acne or breakouts, while Myristic Acid isn’t necessarily off the table, it may be best to use products containing it sparingly and monitor your skin’s reaction.


Embarking on the path to great skin often involves a process of experimentation and trial and error. Understanding the ingredients in your skincare products, both their active and non-active effects, is a fundamental part of this journey.

With its cleansing, emulsifying, and perfuming functions, Myristic Acid offers immediate benefits to the skin. The non-active effects, such as its role in improving product texture and scent, also enhance the overall skincare experience. These features, coupled with its moderate comedogenic rating, may make Myristic Acid an enticing choice for individuals in search of multifunctional skincare ingredients.

Despite its scientific name, Myristic Acid is not an avant-garde ingredient. In fact, it’s been a longstanding ally in the world of cosmetics, even if it doesn’t always get the limelight. The transformative effects of Myristic Acid aren’t immediate, though. Patience is key in the skincare game—visible results often take several weeks to appear as your skin goes through its natural regeneration cycle.

If you have any concerns about Myristic Acid, remember: it’s all about balance. Used wisely, this ingredient has much to offer, from deep cleansing to fragrance enhancement. As always, though, listen to your skin. It will guide you in determining whether Myristic Acid earns a permanent spot in your skincare routine.

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