Isopropyl Myristate is a common hair care ingredient that has been used for over 100 years. In fact, it is often found in every leading salon brand’s “New York” styling cream. Unfortunately, this agent comes with a lot of harmful consequences for both your hair and the environment, not just because it’s significantly poisonous for mammals but also because its production creates more than 300 pounds of toxic waste each year.
This post will introduce you to the story behind how such dangerous chemicals came to be marketed as an essential ingredient in a popular product and what really happens when we buy products with potentially hazardous substances like this one.Is isopropyl myristate bad for hair? What is it? What happens to your hair when you use it? How does the production of this substance create more than 300 pounds of toxic waste every year?
Isopropyl myristate, or more commonly known as the chemical name 2-ethylhexyl propionate, is a synthetic compound that belongs to the group of esters. It is also one of six substances that are classified as dioxanes. This group of chemicals is usually used as a solvent and has been present in various products used by people for over 100 years.
1. Isopropyl myristate is the second most common cosmetic ingredient of a group of chemicals known as dioxanes.
Dioxanes are a group of chemicals that include four types of molecules: alpha-dioxane, beta-dioxane, delta-dioxane, and gamma-dioxane. The molecular weight of each type ranges from about 208 g/mol to about 260 g/mol. Dioxanes are very common in many products that we use everyday like Polysorbates 20 and 80 (Tween) and isopropyl myristate.
2. The chemical name of isopropyl myristate is 2-ethylhexyl propionate.
Isopropyl myristate is a mixture of the two chemicals, 2-ethylhexanol and myristic acid. Its IUPAC chemical formula is C12H26O2. It also has 27 carbon atoms, 26 hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Its molecular weight ranges from about 188 g/mol to about 210 g/mol. Myristic acid can be found in the family Labiatae (mint) that includes herbs such as nutmeg and mace which are used for cooking flavorings for food and drinks.
3. Isopropyl myristate is the most common cosmetic ingredient used in over 300 shampoos, conditioners, hair gels and hair mousses.
Isopropyl myristate is a byproduct of petroleum and is therefore used as a solvent and an extraction agent derived from crude oil. It is also used as an additive to carnauba waxes and mineral oils which are commonly found in many products marketed for hair care use. Isopropyl myristate is said to be an essential ingredient for salon brand styling creams like Redken’s Substance or Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day (PhD). None of the major beauty brands such as Pantene, Garnier, Paul Mitchell, or Carol’s Daughter market an isopropyl myristate free product.
4. The production of isopropyl myristate releases over 300 pounds of harmful waste into the environment every year.
Isopropyl myristate is one of six chemicals in the group of dioxanes which are said to be a mixture of carcinogenic chemicals found in crude oil that are used by many cosmetics and other products as a solvent. The other five chemicals are: 1,4-Dioxane, ethylene oxide, 1,2-Dioxane, diethanolamine (DEA), and triethanolamine (TEA).
One isopropyl myristate production facility in Morocco is said to release over 300 pounds of dioxanes into the environment. These chemicals have been found to disrupt hormones and cause cancer in laboratory animals. They are also believed to be the main cause for liver and kidney disease leading to premature mortality in people living near production facilities.
5. Isopropyl myristate is potentially carcinogenic and causes abnormal cell growth.
The dioxanes have been found to disrupt hormones and cause cancer in laboratory animals. Dioxane is believed to be a cause for liver and kidney disease leading to premature mortality in people living near production facilities.
6. Isopropyl myristate is listed as a “reasonably anticipated carcinogen” by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services under their 2001 Risk Assessment of Chemicals Used in Food Production (RAC) program, which means it has not been fully tested for the potential for causing cancer in humans or animals, although many animal studies have shown it does have this effect on human cells.
7. Isopropyl myristate is a skin irritant that can trigger allergic reactions.
Isopropyl myristate is a skin irritant and can cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis, which is a type of rash. However, many companies do still use this ingredient because it helps their products work better especially in perfumes as well as cosmetics like shampoo, hair mousse, hair gel and conditioner. I personally don’t think this chemical belongs in anything that goes into your body directly or indirectly.