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Ingredient Explained: Isododecane

The secret sauce that makes your beauty products soft and spreadable.
  • Isododecane is a clear, colorless, odorless, non-comedogenic liquid
  • It comes from petroleum but can also be made synthetically
  • Isododecane is a hydrocarbon, a compound made of carbon and hydrogen atoms
  • Isododecane acts as a solvent and an emollient. This means it dissolves other ingredients, such as silicones, so that they can spread more easily on the skin. As an emollient, it locks in moisture and reduces water loss from the skin’s surface
  • It’s often added in products that require a smooth, creamy, and lightweight texture, such as moisturizers and foundations
  • Isododecane is considered safe when used in low concentrations

What is isododecane?

Isododecane is a silky, invisible liquid that gives your products that smooth touch. It’s a simple mix of carbon and hydrogen, a hydrocarbon to be precise. From where does it come from? Well, scientists can derive it from petroleum and plant-based sources, or produce it synthetically.

In a nutshell, isododecane is what gives your products a smooth, creamy, and lightweight texture. Because it’s a solvent, it dissolves other ingredients like silicones and waxes. This gives products spreadability and a smooth texture so they can absorb and glide easily on the skin.

Isododecane is also an effective emollient. Emollients are substances that soften and moisturize the skin and relieve itching and scaling. They cover the surface of the skin with an occlusive layer. Thanks to this layer, your skin can retain water and stay hydrated for longer.

Moreover, isododecane doesn’t clog pores, so it works great for people with oily or acne-prone skin. It’s also not soluble in water. That means it doesn’t sink into the skin but instead works on the surface to lock in moisture and soften the skin. And since it’s volatile, isododecane dries fast on the skin, leaving it smooth without a greasy feel.

Is it safe?

Isododecane is gentle on the skin and has a long history of not causing allergic reactions or major side effects. Neither the EWG nor the FDA are concerned about it. Being water-insoluble, isododecane doesn’t penetrate the skin. Instead, it forms a protective barrier that locks in moisture—ideal for those with dry complexions. It’s non-comedogenic, leaves no greasy or sticky residue, and is easy to wash off.

Uses in beauty products

  • Moisturizer: Isododecane boosts the moisturizing effects of the product and spreads it easily on the skin without leaving a thick or greasy residue. It also creates a matte finish and a weightless feel.
  • Serum: In serums, isododecane breaks down and delivers the active ingredients to the skin. It also makes the serum glide smoothly and ensures it doesn’t feel sticky.
  • Cleanser: Isododecane makes the cleanser easier to rinse off.
  • Foundation: Isododecane creates a long-lasting and transfer-resistant foundation. It allows the foundation to blend seamlessly on the skin and gives it a soft feel.
  • Mascara: Isododecane is what gives your mascara its waterproof, smudge-proof, and volumizing properties. It also ensures that the mascara doesn’t smudge.
  • Lipstick: Isododecane improves the spreadability and wearability of lipstick.
Who wrote this?
Picture of Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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