Is Isopropyl Myristate Comedogenic?

by Gio
isopropyl myristate is comedogenic

You know me. I usually turn to science to figure out if an ingredient is good or bad.

But sometimes, science can’t give you the answer. If no one has done a study on it, science stays mute. It doesn’t have an opinion. It only deals with facts.

That’s why it’s so hard to figure out if Isopropyl Myristate is comedogenic. Some people swear it turns their face into a war zone. Other think it’s been unfairly maligned.

For once, I’m siding with the accusers. Science may not prove Isopropyl Myristate gives you pimples but that’s what happens to my skin every time I use.

In the absence of any scientific evidence (I know, how Un-Beautiful With Brains of me!), I’ll let my skin do all the talking:

What The Heck Is Isopropyl Myristate and why is it in my Skincare Anyway?

Isopropyl Myristate is an ester of the fatty acid Myristic Acid.

(For the nerds among you, an ester is a substance formed from the reaction between an acid and an alcohol via the elimination of water)

Isopropyl Myristate has a silky feeling that makes skin (and hair) soft, smooth and supple. It also reduces the greasy feel of other oils in the same product. Rather than an oily mess, the cream is now sleek and light to the touch.

Is Isopropyl Myristate comedogenic?

Truth be told, scientists did some tests to see if Isopropyl Myristate is comedogenic. On rabbit’s ears. Some of these tests said it causes pimples. Other tests said the exact opposite.

Who’s right? It doesn’t matter. We’re humans, not rabbits. The results don’t apply to us either way.

What about tests done on humans? There aren’t any. There are only women who use skincare products with Isopropyl Myristate. They had the same results as the studies. Some women say it gives them pimples. Others can use it fine.

In the end, I think it depends on your skin. I have combination skin and whenever I slather on a cream with Isopropyl Myristate all over my face, I get pimples on my oiliest areas. 

At first, I thought it was something else causing the problem, but nope. Whenever I use a cream loaded with Isopropyl Myryitate, my skin breaks out. When I use a cream without it, no zits. I use it again, breakouts galore. I stop, no zits.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

By the way, my body is a different story. The skin there is very dry so Isopropyl Myristate doesn’t bother it. I get no zits when I use it there.

This is only my personal opinion so don’t take it as the Gospel. But if you have combination, oily or acne-prone skin, I do recommend you stay away from skincare products that have a high concentration of Isopropyl Myristate.

By the way, Isopropyl Palmitate has the same effect on me. Just saying.

The Bottom Line

Science hasn’t proven yet that Isopropyl Myristate is comedogenic but many of us get pimples whenever we use it. If you have combo, oily or acne-prone skin, beware!

Does Isopropyl Myristate break you out? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Eli February 5, 2013 - 2:07 pm

This is found in almost each product I own… SO it’s quite difficult to avoid it πŸ˜€

beautifulwithbrains February 5, 2013 - 8:01 pm

Eli, tell me about it! It’s so difficult for me to find skincare products that don’t break me out because most of them seem to contain either Isopropyl Myristate or one of its relatives. Argh! But if you’ve been using it without any side effects, then there’s no reason to stop now.

Janessa February 6, 2013 - 4:48 am

I just recently found out my new Shiseido spf 50 sunscreen has myristate in it? The box got thrown away so I don’t have the ingredients anymore. I tried looking it up, but I just see the old spf 55 ingredients list. So far, I have not broken out but I use Blue Lizard sensitive skin formula sunblock (I LOVE THIS) and then apply a little bit of the Shiseido one on top to mattify the greasy sunblock on my face (works so well).

I don’t break out that easily but I have had one giant nasty my chin months ago in October and it’s left a darkened mark there ever since. Advice?
I do think my old cleanser with myristate at the top of the list broke me out and left me with clogged pores. I stopped using it since the last post about ingredients you avoid and I think my skin’s been better.

Beauty trick I am in love with lately: Pour some EVOO on a cotton ball and then wet the cotton ball and use it to take off sunscreen or to just clean the face but leave it moisturized though not enough to skip a moisturizer. Warning: I don’t break out very easily and my problem, I’ve discovered as of late, are comodegenic ingredients clogging my pores.
SO. if you decide to try this (unless you already have), make sure EVOO doesn’t break you out. :O

Sorry I love your blog too much to not find some time to write.

beautifulwithbrains February 7, 2013 - 10:56 pm

Janessa, it’s difficult to tell without seeing it in person but it sounds like post-inflammatoy hyperpigmentation, which is the red, pink or brown discoloration that’s present after a blemish has healed. If so, this should heal on its own overtime (ie several months). Is that the case? Is it smaller now than it was in October? In any case, you can accelerate the healing process by using an exfoliant with glycolic acid.

And isn’t olive oil amazing? It just removes everything without drying out skin. I’m glad you love it, and thanks for sharing the tip. πŸ™‚

Jade M May 17, 2016 - 1:06 pm

This was a really interesting read! I pretty much break out no matter which product I use and I can never quite find the culprit! I’ve had a lot of luck with Eucerin’s DermoPurifyer Hydrating Care – it’s about the only thing I can safely use, and it doesn’t contain isopropyl myristate… Suspicious indeed. Thanks for a fantastic article πŸ˜€

Gio May 19, 2016 - 9:55 am

Jade, glad you enjoyed it. All the experts say this doesn’t cause breakouts because there are no studies that support that claim. Yet, me and many others break out so badly whenever we use it. Definitely one to avoid if your skin is prone to breakouts!

AScientist February 11, 2017 - 9:01 am

Two things!
Evidence suggests that isopropyl myristate *enhances the effects of other products with which it’s combined* – meaning it can increase the side effects from other things you might be allergic or hyposensitive too. Go back to the packets and have a look at what else is in there.
The other thing is that isopropyl myristate is easy to buy (I have some). If possible (which here it is), you should never dismiss a chemical or spread suspicion on it if you have the option of testing it. This is mostly because if someone has an extreme reaction, if isopropyl myristate is not the culprit they could put themselves at risk because of an idea they read that they then assumed was truth. So get hold of some and test it on you! If it isn’t harmful, you can easily use it up making your own cosmetics.

Gio February 12, 2017 - 5:41 pm

AScientist, thanks for your comment. You make a very good point. I may get some and test it, although I’m afraid it may turn my skin into a war zone.

The purpose of this post wasn’t to scare people (I did say I think It’s perfectly fine for dry skin). I just find it odd that every time I use a cream with this ingredient, I end up with pimples. Take it out, no problems at all. Other ingredients don’t bother me so I don’t think that in my case, the penetration enhancing theory doesn’t hold water. But you’re right, the only way to find out for sure is to test it.

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