Caprylic/capric triglycerides

Jul 20, 2023 | Ingredients



Caprylic/capric triglycerides is an ingredient obtained from coconut oil. It is actually an ester made from glycerol and fatty acids. You can also find it under the name of “fractionated coconut oil” or “medium chain triglycerides” (MCT).

It is actually a part (or a fraction) of coconut oil that only has fatty acids with a carbon number of 8-10, hence the name MCT as these are medium length fatty acids. This ingredient is widely used in skincare and you may have seen it in lotions, lipsticks, eyeliners and more.

It is a very versatile ingredient and can be used in many formulations because it is a very good emollient. Caprylic/capric triglycerides penetrate the skin and the hair quite well to provide good benefits.

In skin care its main function is to moisturize the skin and it does that by forming a barrier on it. By doing this, it prevents further water loss and keeps the skin supple and hydrated.

In the hair care caprylic/capric triglycerides have similar effect as pure coconut oil, just because it is a fraction of it. It leaves the hair smooth and may help with the tangling.



As mentioned before, caprylic/capric triglycerides is an ester made from saturated fatty acids. That means they have a glycerol molecule on one side attached to the fatty acid residue to the other side. Caprylic acid has 8 atoms of carbon while capric acid has 10 atoms of carbon. In other words, these fatty acids differ from one another on the length of the carbon tail.

Here you can see structures of caprylic and capric fatty acids: caprylic fatty acid is the first structure and capric fatty acid is the lower structure.


The picture below shows how they may look in the triglyceride form. You can see the fatty acids attached to the glycerol molecule. Also, note that the picture below does not show the actual length or their angle of the bonds in the glycerol backbone. 

The triglyceride picture is just for representation of what it may look like and it is easier to show it plainly in 2D. The 3D model would be a bit more complicated to show, though much more accurate. If you can, please try to imagine the bonds between C-C of the same length.


When you think about this ingredient, you have to imagine it as a whole. In the triglyceride form there could be 2 capric acid residues and 1 caprylic acid residue or vice versa. It is a mixture of these two fatty acids in a ratio. This ratio could be written (like here in Lotioncrafter or Alexmo-cosmetics) or hidden (like in Aroma-zone). Sadly, most of the times I have not seen the sellers write the ratio of these fatty acids.

This could be that the seller just does not want to share this information, or maybe it does not seem very relevant to them to do this.

Interestingly, I actually found out a manufacturer (Berg + Schmidt GmbH & Co. KG) stating the exact ratio of this triglyceride. There could be 60/40 ratio as well as 70/30 ratio. 


I am not sure how these two differ from one another as I did not have the chance to compare them. But the difference should be not that great though, because both fatty acids should be very similar to each other. Also, the differences in this ratio may be dependent on the coconut oil as it is the origin material. 



This is a checklist with essential equipment for making DIY cosmetics to help you get everything you really need.

3. Basic properties of caprylic/capric triglycerides

INCI Caprylic/capric triglycerides
Function Emollient. It is a highly polar lipid. It is usually in the ratio of 60/40.
Usage rate 1-80%
Origin It is a fraction of medium chain triglycerides obtained from coconut oil
Appearance Clear thin liquid
Absorption rate Quite fast
Solubility Oil
Skin type All skin types
Flash point 250-270°C / 482-518°F
Shelf life Store somewhere in a cool, dark and dry environment. It should last at least two-three years.
When to include it Can be heated without any problems
How much do you need it? 100-250 ml (3.3-8.45 oz.) is a good start.
Alternatives Due to its unique structure there is no alternatives. Though IPM (isopropyl myristate) may feel somewhat similar, but it is lighter than caprylic/capric triglycerides.


Apart that it comes from coconut oil it looks very different. It is a very thin transparent liquid oil that has a very faint scent or none at all. Its shelf life is quite long as it is made from saturated fatty acids that are not prone to oxidation (though it will happen at some point).

Because of the different ratios of the ingredient the skin feel may be a bit different too. If the differences are quite minor, then it will be harder to feel the difference. All in all, all of them should feel pretty much similar, just depends on your perception as well.

However, because of their structure (no double bonds), it can feel a bit heavy. Its absorption rate quite fast though.  


5. Stability and heating of caprylic/capric triglycerideS

The shelf life of this ingredient is long as it consists only of unsaturated fatty acids that are stable over time. The main instability of oils and such ingredients comes from the double bonds in the fatty acids.

And as caprylic/capric triglycerides do not have double bonds in their structure, they are stable for longer periods of time.

Caprylic/capric triglycerides can be used in cold process formulations as well as hot process formulations. As it is a stable ingredient (no double bonds), it can be heated to high temperatures.

6. What you can make with caprylic/capric triglycerideS?

This is a very versatile ingredient and it could be used in most of the cosmetic formulations. However, these are the main products that caprylic/capric triglycerides could be used in.

  • Massage oils
  • Hair oils, hair masks
  • Lotions
  • Conditioners
  • Shampoos
  • Foundation, lipstick, blusher
  • Make-up removers

7. Where to buy fractionated coconut oil?

This is a very widely known ingredient and should be sold in almost any cosmetic ingredient supplier shops. They may change the name of it, but the INCI name will always be: caprylic/capric triglycerides and this is what you should look for.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *