Ever wonder what it is about coconut oil that has everyone head over heels, raving about its benefits? The secret is lauric acid, which makes up about half of the fat found in coconut oil! This lipid is a huge part of the fat of a coconut, which is what makes coconut a nice option to cook with or add to your skincare regimen when looking to moisturize or soothe dry skin. Curious about this acid you’ve never heard of? Read on — we’re delving into this fatty lipid for you!
What is lauric acid?
Also known as dodecanoic acid, lauric acid is a fatty acid that’s found in certain plant and animal fats and oils, as well as in the milk of humans, cows, and goats. It’s the main fatty acid in coconut and palm kernel oil, which is not the same as palm oil, in case you were concerned.
As a skin care ingredient, it’s known for its surfactant properties. Come again? A surfactant is a compound that helps lessen the surface tension between two different compounds — like two different liquids, or a gas and a liquid. Surfactants are used to help make skincare foam, make detergents work better, or make products emulsify better. So in the case of Lauric acid, it helps water to mix with oil, dirt, or other residue so that the water can rinse away all the dirt and oil that’s in your skin and hair.
Lauric acid is very different from lactic acid — which you may have heard of as a wonderful alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) exfoliant. They are two, very different, ingredients!
Why is lauric acid such a good skincare ingredient?
Because lauric acid is so gentle on the skin and because it has no toxicity, it makes a great addition to many skin and hair care products. Additionally, lauric acid is naturally rich in antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, which has made it a skincare fave among brands for years.
Interestingly, lauric acid is also used to treat certain viral infections, so if cold sores or fever blisters are a concern for you, ask your doctor about the benefits of adding lauric acid to your diet or skin care practice.
Who should use lauric acid-infused products?
Anyone with acne should consider using products with lauric acid, because it’s so naturally effective at killing off the P. acnes bacteria that leads to breakouts, In fact, some found pure lauric acid more effective at treating acne symptoms than benzoyl peroxide! So, if harsh chemicals tend to give you bad reactions or dry out your skin, consider opting for acne fighters that rely on gentler ingredients to soothe and treat — i.e. sulfur and lauric acid.
Because it’s more effective than mineral oil, which can often irritate acne or even lead to clogged pores and breakouts, lauric acid-rich coconut oil can make a great choice when seeking to hydrate skin and maintain skin’s elasticity, particularly for anyone with psoriasis. As it is so effective at hydrating the skin, the anti-aging effects of lauric acid can be measured in reduced visibility of wrinkles and fine lines as well.
Anything I should keep an eye out for before introducing lauric acid into my skincare regimen?
According to the FDA, lauric acid is considered generally safe when used as a food additive, but has been known to irritate the skin for some, so be sure to discontinue use if you notice irritation. As it can be triggering to the mucous membranes, take care to keep any topical creams or oils away from your eyes, nose and mouth when using lauric acid-based ingredients in your skincare, just to be safe.
Looking for a product that utilizes lauric acid? Check out SLMD Skincare’s Acne Body Wash!