Isoamyl laurate

May 26, 2024 | Ingredients

Isoamyl laurate

1. What is isoamyl laurate and where is it used?

Isoamyl laurate is a lightweight ester which is primarily used as an alternative to silicones. It comes from renewable vegetable sources – I am not sure which ones, but given that it has “laurate” in the name it may have come from coconut oil as it has a large amount of lauric acid. It is said to be fully biodegradable and contribute to RSPO Mass balance supply for the sustainable palm oil production.

Isoamyl laurate works as a very light emollient and provides a non-sticky skin feel. It can be used in a variety of cosmetic formulations where light touch is needed, especially in hair care, serums and lotions.


In haircare it also gives some combability properties, shine to the hair and does not weigh down the hair.

It is also a good ingredient to disperse pigments (decorative cosmetics) and UV filters.

2. Chemical structure of isoamyl laurate

It is an ester of isoamyl alcohol and lauric acid. I know that ‘isoamyl’ may sound strange or even dangerous, but this word actually shows how the atoms are connected to each other. When we look at the carbon chain we count how many atoms are in the structure. And depending on how these atoms connect with each other we can get different molecules with slightly different properties. In this case – ‘iso’ is the terminal isopropyl group that looks like this:

‘Amyl’ here is an old name for 5. Nowadays we usually use pentyl group. So, ‘amyl’ shows that there are 5 carbon atoms and ‘iso’ shows how they are connected at the terminal. Which shows that we still need 2 additional carbon atoms to make total 5. Which we can see in the structure below. The isoamyl- group is on the left.


“Laur-” here shows that we have 12 saturated carbon atom chain, while ‘-ate’ shows that it is a salt or an ester. In this case it is an ester (as we don’t have any other ions here such as Sodium/potassium etc.). It can be seen as a long tail in the picture above.



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

3. Basic properties of isoamyl laurate

INCI Isoamyl laurate
Function It is an emollient that is suited for all skin types
Usage rate In skincare: 0-20%, in haircare 0.5-1.5%
Origin Palm kernel oil, sugar cane, sugar beet, wheat and/or barley
Appearance Clear, thin liquid
Scent Very low, somewhat vegetable.
Polarity Medium
Solubility Oil
Skin type All skin types
Shelf life Store somewhere in a cool, dark and dry environment. Should last 1-2 years depending on the storage conditions.
When to include it Can be processed cold or hot
How much do you need it? 100-250 ml (3.3-8.45 oz.).
Alternatives This is unique silicone alternative, but other options would be: coco-caprylate/caprate, caprylic/capric triglycerides

4. Appearance and skin feel of silicone alternative

It is a clear liquid, very thin and it may look just like water. In addition to this, it has no odor and has a pleasant light and non-sticky feeling. It spreads easily on the skin, but it may leave shine on the applied area.

When used in oily serums it will give this nice spreading and light feeling with fast absorption. If used in creams you will see how much lighter the product is and help to balance oily phase.


5. Stability of isoamyl laurate and how to work with it

It is a stable ingredient which should last at least 2 years when stored in a cool dark place. Isoamyl laurate can be heated without any problems and this is why it can be used in cold process or hot process formulations.

The pH of the formulation should stay within 5-7. It would be best if the pH was in this range at all times when formulating with this ingredient.

As it is a highly polar oil, it can decrease viscosity in emulsions or surfactant based products.



Isoamyl laurate can be used anywhere where silicones are used to get that silky light feeling without the need to use a silicone. It is a good ingredient to make:

  • Oily face serums
  • Lotions without oils
  • Conditioners (wash-off and leave-in)
  • Masks
  • Hair serums

7. Where to buy isoamyl laurate?

This is ingredient is getting popularity and it is easier to get it than before. Here are several places where you can order it, but there may be more places.


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