Dangers of Isopropyl Myristate

Updated February 21, 2017

Isopropyl myristate is an organic combination of isopropyl alcohol and myristic acid. Isopropyl myristate is a fatty acid compound that is used in cosmetics as a binder. Some of the common products in which it is used include moisturisers, perfumes, deodorants, bath oils and shaving creams. It is also used as part of a natural lice treatment option. Despite its myriad uses, there are some danger associated with its use.

Possible Carcinogenic

When Isopropyl myristate comes into contact with substances called diethanolamine or triethanolamine, this blend results in the formation of a nitric compound called n- nitrosodiethanolamine. Healthy reports that this n- nitrosodiethanolamine compound can act as a cancer-causing agent. However, the cosmetic industry maintains that the compound is not found in sufficient quantities to be carcinogenic, and the FDA has not evaluated nor confirmed that isopropyl myristate is a carcinogen. Still, those who engage in prolonged use of cosmetics made of isopropyl myristate should be aware of this possible danger in determining whether they believe the cosmetics are safe.

Skin Problems

Many moisturisers use a combination of petrolatum and isopropyl myristate because petrolatum is not easily absorbed in the skin, while isopropyl myristate is. When these two substances combine, the products can be absorbed too deeply into the skin, clogging the pores. The result is that moisturisers with isopropyl myristate may choke the supply of oxygen into the skin. The inevitable result is dead skin, since the skin is deprived of this essential nutrient.


Isopropyl myristate also causes other undesirable problems that can become dangerous when left unchecked. Since it is primarily used on the skin, it causes mild to severe irritation of the skin; but also on the eyes and respiratory system. When used in combination with a hydrocortisone in topical preparations, isopropyl myristate can result in cracking of the skin, acne, inflammation in the hair follicles and sweating.

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About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.