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

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: February 26, 2024
Table of Contents

Navigating the world of cosmetics can often feel like trying to decipher a complex scientific formula, especially when you’re confronted with a myriad of scientific names on product labels. One such ingredient that you may have come across is Zinc Undecylenate. In this article, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of this ingredient, exploring its role and significance in cosmetic products.

What is Zinc Undecylenate?

Zinc Undecylenate, also known as Zinc Diundec-10-Enoate, is a pretty nifty ingredient in the world of cosmetics. It’s a zinc salt of undecylenic acid, which is a fatty acid derived from castor oil.

This ingredient is a bit of a multitasker. It’s used for its antimicrobial properties, meaning it helps to prevent the growth of microorganisms on the skin. It’s also an anticaking agent, which helps to improve the texture and feel of cosmetic products. Plus, it has opacifying properties, which means it can make a product more opaque or less transparent.

Zinc Undecylenate works by releasing zinc ions when it comes into contact with moisture. These ions can inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi, making it a useful ingredient in products designed to treat or prevent skin infections.

You’re not likely to find Zinc Undecylenate sold on its own. It’s usually part of a wider formulation of ingredients in a product. It’s often used in products like foot powders, creams, and lotions, where its antimicrobial and anticaking properties can really shine.

Who Can Use Zinc Undecylenate?

Zinc Undecylenate is a pretty versatile ingredient and is suitable for all skin types. Whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin, this ingredient can be a beneficial addition to your skincare routine.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’re in luck! Zinc Undecylenate is derived from castor oil, which is a plant-based ingredient. So, it’s totally suitable for those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.

As for pregnant or breastfeeding women, there’s no specific information suggesting that Zinc Undecylenate is unsafe. However, as with any new skincare ingredient, it’s always a good idea to check with a healthcare professional before use. They can provide advice based on your individual circumstances and any potential risks associated with the ingredient.

Zinc Undecylenate’s Cosmetic Benefits/Uses

The following section will delve into the cosmetic benefits and uses of Zinc Undecylenate. It’s important to note that this ingredient may have applications in various industries, but this article will focus solely on its cosmetic benefits. The benefits listed below are based on the official functions of Zinc Undecylenate as an anticaking agent, antimicrobial agent, and opacifying agent.

  • Anticaking Agent: Zinc Undecylenate is often used in cosmetic products to prevent the ingredients from clumping together and forming lumps. This is particularly important in powder-based products such as eyeshadows, blushes, and face powders. The presence of Zinc Undecylenate ensures a smooth and even application, enhancing the overall user experience. It achieves this by absorbing moisture and oil that could otherwise lead to clumping.
  • Antimicrobial Agent: One of the key benefits of Zinc Undecylenate is its antimicrobial properties. It can inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi, making it an essential ingredient in products designed for acne-prone or sensitive skin. By preventing microbial growth, Zinc Undecylenate helps to maintain the product’s integrity and prolong its shelf life. Furthermore, its antimicrobial action can help to prevent skin infections and inflammations, contributing to healthier skin.
  • Opacifying Agent: Zinc Undecylenate also serves as an opacifying agent in cosmetic formulations. This means it increases the opacity or reduces the transparency of the products. This is a desirable quality in products like sunscreens, lotions, and creams, where a certain level of opacity can enhance the product’s aesthetic appeal. Additionally, by reducing transparency, Zinc Undecylenate can help to hide blemishes and skin imperfections, providing a more flawless finish.

Potential Side Effects/Adverse Reactions

The side effects and reactions to Zinc Undecylenate can vary greatly from person to person. It’s important to remember that while some people may experience no side effects at all, others may experience mild to severe reactions.

Potential side effects of Zinc Undecylenate include:

  • Skin irritation: This can include redness, itching, or a burning sensation.
  • Allergic reactions: Symptoms can range from mild (such as a rash or hives) to severe (such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat).
  • Dryness or peeling of the skin: This is more common with prolonged use of products containing Zinc Undecylenate.

If you experience any of these side effects while using Zinc Undecylenate, it’s important to stop using the product immediately and seek medical attention if the symptoms persist or worsen.

Adverse reactions to Zinc Undecylenate are generally rare, but they can occur. It’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, and what works well for one person may not work as well for another.

This is why patch testing is so important when it comes to using cosmetic products. By applying a small amount of the product to a discreet area of skin and waiting 24 hours to see if any reaction occurs, you can help ensure that the product is safe for you to use. For a detailed guide on how to perform a patch test, check out our patch testing guide.

Comedogenic Rating

Comedogenicity refers to the potential of a substance to clog pores, leading to blackheads, pimples, or acne. It is a crucial factor to consider when choosing cosmetic ingredients, especially for individuals with acne-prone or sensitive skin.

Zinc Undecylenate has a comedogenic rating of 0. This means it is non-comedogenic and does not clog pores. The rating is based on its molecular structure and how it interacts with the skin. Zinc Undecylenate is a zinc salt of undecylenic acid, which has antifungal properties and is often used in the treatment of skin conditions. It does not contain any heavy oils or waxes that could potentially block pores and cause breakouts.

Therefore, Zinc Undecylenate is suitable for those who are prone to acne or breakouts. Its non-comedogenic nature means it won’t contribute to the formation of acne, and its antimicrobial properties may even help to reduce breakouts.


Zinc Undecylenate serves several functions in cosmetics, including anticaking, antimicrobial, and opacifying. As an anticaking agent, it prevents the product from clumping together, ensuring a smooth application. Its antimicrobial properties help to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, thereby extending the product’s shelf life. As an opacifying agent, it enhances the product’s appearance by making it less transparent or more opaque.

Despite its multiple benefits, Zinc Undecylenate is not as popular as some other cosmetic ingredients. It is similar to ingredients like Zinc Pyrithione and Zinc Gluconate, which also have antimicrobial properties and are used in a variety of skincare and haircare products.

In terms of safety, Zinc Undecylenate is generally considered safe to use. It is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores or contribute to acne. However, as with any ingredient, it’s always important to patch test a new product to ensure it doesn’t cause any adverse reactions.

Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
How did you find this article?
Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
Get all our top headlines in beauty.
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send good feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send bad feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.