Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate: What Is It, Skin Benefits & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: December 1, 2023
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Navigating the world of cosmetics can often feel like wading through a sea of complex, scientific terms. The beauty industry is replete with ingredients that boast chemical-sounding names, each playing a unique role in the efficacy and appeal of the products. These names, while scientifically accurate, can sometimes be bewildering for the average consumer.

One such ingredient that often appears on the labels of cosmetic products is Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate. The name itself might seem daunting at first glance, a tangle of syllables that sounds more at home in a chemistry lab than in our daily skincare routine.

This article aims to demystify Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate. We’ll delve into what this ingredient is, its role in cosmetics, and why it has found its way into numerous beauty and skincare products.

What is Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate?

Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate is a specialized ingredient commonly found in a variety of cosmetic products. It may also be known by other names, such as Propylene Glycol Caprylate/Caprate, or under specific trade names depending on the manufacturer.

This ingredient is a synthetic compound, primarily created through the esterification of Propylene Glycol with a mixture of Caprylic (Octanoic) and Capric (Decanoic) acids. The resulting compound is a clear, oily liquid. Its primary purpose in cosmetic formulations is as a skin conditioning agent and emollient. It works by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface, helping to retain moisture and keep the skin hydrated.

The concentration of Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate in cosmetic products can vary, but it is typically used in small amounts. It’s commonly found in concentrations ranging from 1% to 10%, depending on the type of product and desired effect.

This ingredient is rarely sold as a standalone product for consumer use. Instead, it is predominantly used as part of a wider formulation, blending seamlessly with other ingredients to enhance the overall performance and feel of the cosmetic product.

Who Can Use Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate?

Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate is generally suitable for a wide range of skin types. Its moisturizing properties make it especially beneficial for those with dry or sensitive skin, as it helps to maintain skin hydration and barrier function.

This ingredient is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Unlike some cosmetic ingredients that are derived from animals, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate is synthetically made, and its production does not involve animal-derived components, making it a vegan-friendly option.

Regarding use by pregnant or breastfeeding women, there are no specific contraindications. However, as with any cosmetic ingredient, individual sensitivities and conditions should be considered. It is always recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women to consult with a healthcare provider before introducing new cosmetic products into their regimen.

Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate Skin Benefits

Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate offers a range of benefits for the skin, primarily due to its properties as an emollient and skin conditioner. Below are the key benefits, along with detailed explanations of how and why these effects occur:

  • Enhanced Skin Hydration: The ability of Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate to create a barrier on the skin’s surface is a key benefit. This barrier function is crucial in preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), a common phenomenon where moisture evaporates from the skin. By trapping moisture beneath the surface, it ensures the skin remains adequately hydrated. This hydration is vital for maintaining the skin’s suppleness and preventing the dry, flaky appearance often associated with dehydrated skin. Hydrated skin feels more comfortable and appears healthier and more vibrant.
  • Improved Skin Texture: The ingredient’s emollient properties play a significant role in enhancing skin texture. By filling in the spaces between skin cells, especially in the outermost layer of the skin (the stratum corneum), it effectively smoothens and softens the skin’s surface. This results in a noticeable improvement in skin texture, leaving it feeling silky and looking more refined. The smoothing effect also helps to provide a more even canvas for makeup application, making it a favored ingredient in many cosmetic products.
  • Restoration of Skin Flexibility: The hydration and smoothing effects of Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate contribute significantly to the restoration of skin flexibility. Well-hydrated and smooth skin is naturally more elastic and resilient. This increased elasticity helps reduce the visibility of fine lines and minor wrinkles, giving the skin a more youthful appearance. The improvement in skin flexibility is particularly beneficial as skin elasticity tends to diminish with age.
  • Supports Skin Barrier Function: The protective layer formed by Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate enhances the skin’s natural barrier function. This barrier is essential for safeguarding the skin against environmental aggressors like pollutants, UV radiation, and harsh weather conditions. It also plays a role in preventing the penetration of harmful irritants and allergens, making it a valuable ingredient for those with sensitive or compromised skin. A strong skin barrier is not only important for the overall health of the skin but also for maintaining its aesthetic appearance.

It’s important to note that while Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate offers these benefits, they are not permanent. The positive effects on the skin are maintained only with regular use of the product containing this ingredient.

Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate Potential Side Effects

While Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate is generally well-tolerated and safe for use in cosmetics, it’s important to recognize that side effects and reactions can vary from person to person. This variation often stems from individual differences in skin composition, sensitivity, and skin type. Factors such as genetic predisposition, existing skin conditions, and even environmental influences can influence how one’s skin reacts to certain ingredients.

Potential side effects and interactions include:

  • Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction, characterized by symptoms like redness, itching, or rash.
  • Skin Irritation: In very sensitive individuals, this ingredient might cause mild irritation, leading to symptoms like redness or a slight burning sensation.

If you experience any of these side effects while using a product containing Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, it’s advisable to discontinue use immediately and consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and potentially recommend alternatives that may be more suitable for your skin type.

It’s important to note that adverse reactions to Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate are relatively rare. Generally, this ingredient is considered safe and effective for use in cosmetic products.

When introducing any new cosmetic product into your routine, the importance of patch testing cannot be overstated. Patch testing helps in identifying potential adverse reactions before applying the product more broadly. For a detailed guide on how to conduct a patch test, refer to our patch testing guide. This simple precautionary step can significantly reduce the risk of unexpected skin reactions.

Comedogenic Rating

Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate has a comedogenic rating of 2 on a scale from 0 to 5. This rating indicates that while it’s not highly comedogenic, there’s a slight chance it could contribute to clogged pores, particularly in individuals with acne-prone skin.

The reason for this rating stems from its occlusive nature as an emollient, which, while beneficial for locking in moisture, might potentially lead to pore blockages in some cases.


Success in skincare is often a journey of experimentation, trial, and error. It involves finding the right ingredients that work for your specific skin needs and maintaining consistency in their application. Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate is an excellent example of an ingredient that can be highly effective when used appropriately. It offers significant benefits, especially in terms of moisturization and improving skin texture.

This ingredient, though not as widely recognized or popular as some others, has earned its place in cosmetic formulations due to its effective moisturizing and skin-conditioning effects. It’s not an uncommon ingredient, but it’s also not found in every product on the shelf. It shares similarities with other emollients like Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, which are also used for their skin-conditioning properties.

The time it takes to see results from using products containing Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate can vary. Typically, skin hydration and texture improvements may be noticed within a few weeks of consistent use. However, like with most skincare ingredients, the timeline can differ based on individual skin types and the specific formulation of the product.

For those concerned about using this ingredient, it’s worth noting its safety and efficacy. While there are potential side effects, they are rare and generally mild. Its benefits in hydrating and conditioning the skin make it a valuable component in many skincare products. As with any ingredient, consulting with a dermatologist can provide personalized advice and reassurance if you have specific skin conditions or concerns.

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