Isopropyl Myristate Definition

Written by victoria weinblatt
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Isopropyl Myristate Definition
Isopropyl myristate is a common ingredient in makeup. (Image by, courtesy of courtney r)

Isopropyl myristate is found in a number of popular personal care products. It is most commonly used in moisturizers, perfume, makeup and cleansing products. Isopropyl myristate is also an ingredient in a treatment for head lice infestation. There are both synthetic and natural forms of isopropyl myristate. Natural forms are derived from animal and vegetable sources of oils and fats.

Isopropyl Myristate and Personal Care Products

Isopropyl myristate is a wax that varies in color from yellow to white. In cosmetics it acts as a binder and an emollient agent for skin conditioning. A binder is an ingredient that keeps a compressed tablet together. A skin conditioning agent that acts as an emollient lubricates the surface of the skin leaving it softer and smoother in appearance. You probably have some of these personal care products in your house now. Here are a few: RGX Body Spray (Refresh and Chill), Aussie Natural Gel-Old Product, Neutrogena Body Lotion-Sesame Formula, Pond's Overnight Nourishing Moisturizer and Bath & Body Works Body Lotion-Flowering Herbs.

Isopropyl Myristate Definition
Some lotions contain isopropyl myristate. (Image by, courtesy of Roland Tanglao)

Isopropyl Myristate and Head Lice

New treatments for head lice are being sought and products containing isopropyl myristate have proven to be effective. Lice has built up resistance to traditional pesticide treatments like pyrethrins and lindane. Additionally, these substances are toxic not only to lice but to humans, too. Researchers are looking for less toxic alternatives to traditional pesticide treatments, and that is where isopropyl myristate comes in. In 2006, an anti-lice treatment containing 50 percent isopropyl myristate as the active ingredient was released to the consumer market in Canada under the commercial name Resultz. The lice become dehydrated and die when their exoskeleton is covered with it. An exoskeleton is the hard outer coating of the louse and other insects. 

Isopropyl Myristate Definition
New treatments for lice have isopropyl myristate as the active ingredient. (Image by, courtesy of woodley wonderworks)

Instructions for Isopropyl Myristate Lice Treatment

Lice treatments containing isopropyl myristate are used much like traditional treatments. When the hair is dry, apply the shampoo-like liquid and saturate the hair. Pay special attention to the hairline at the base of the neck and hair roots. Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse. You can wash your hair with your own shampoo after rinsing thoroughly.

Isopropyl Myristate Definition
Rinse the lice treatment out thoroughly after 10 minutes. (Image by, courtesy of Kevin Dooley)

Other Names for Isopropyl Myristate

According to the National Institutes of Health Household Products Database, isopropyl myristate goes by many other names including: myristic acid, isopropyl ester; tetradecanoic acid, isopropyl ester; tetradecanoic acid, 1-methylethyl ester; isopropyl tetradecanoate; 1-methylethyl tetradecanoate; tetradecanoic acid, isopropyl; 1-tridecanecarboxylic acid, isopropyl ester; myristic acid, isopropyl ester (8CI)." In Spanish it is called "miristato de isopropilo" and in French you use "myristate d'isopropyle".

Isopropyl Myristate Safety Review

According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, skin tests conducted using isopropyl myristate showed that it was an irritant to the skin and eyes. However, the products that contained it were not. Additionally, it is not a sensitizer or carcinogenic.

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