Why are Esterified Oils Useless in Cosmetics?

Esterified oils: when the transformation of ingredients denatures natural cosmetics

In this series devoted to oils as an essential cosmetic ingredient, we have seen that the most common oils used in our creams are of petrochemical origin.
There are two other types of oils that are of natural or partially natural origin and that have undergone a change in their chemical structure: esterified oils and hydrogenated oils. Here we will discuss esterified oils, which are widely used in cosmetics as an alternative to natural vegetable oils.

What is the difference between esterified oils and natural vegetable oils?

Their composition is fundamentally different. Esterified oils come from two successive transformations of vegetable oils. The first consists of breaking down the main components of a vegetable oil (triglycerides). The second, to recombine the resulting molecules (fatty acids) with molecules foreign to vegetable oils (natural alcohols or petrochemicals). Result: these modifications lead to the formation of an esterified oil with a composition and therefore properties totally different from the original vegetable oil.

What’s that gonna do to your skin?

These profound alterations in composition are not strictly speaking harmful to the skin. Nevertheless, esterified oils have lost all the beneficial properties of the natural vegetable oils from which they are derived. Exit the Omega 3 and other essential fatty acids, bye-bye vitamins and antioxidants, adios the multiple virtues of the unsaponifiables.

Why then are esterified oils increasingly used in cosmetics?

Their drier feel, as well as their more neutral odour and appearance, is generally cited. Esterified oils are also more stable: they become rancid (oxidize) much less than natural vegetable oils. The last major “advantage” is their lower cost. Present in great proportion in a cream, they thus make it possible to strongly decrease the cost price.

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How to spot esterified oils?

Many famous formulas that boast their “star” vegetable oils (Argan, Borage, Evening Primrose and others …) are actually composed mainly of esterified oils. You can detect this by reading the list of ingredients where you will find for example in the first positions one of the following molecules:

  • Caprylic Capric Triglyceride
  • Coco Caprylate Caprate
  • Oleyl Erucate
  • Oleyl Linoleate
  • Decyl Oleate
  • Dicaprylyl Ether (ether)
  • Octyldodecanol (ether)?

And the list is unfortunately far too long!

In fact, it’s only much further down the list of ingredients that you’ll find vegetable oils, relegated to the bottom of the list by their low percentage in the formula


But what does bio do?

Organic cosmetics have had the merit of imposing many very salutary rules to guarantee a certain level of naturalness in cosmetics. However, as far as esterified oils are concerned, the restrictions put in place by organic labels are currently almost non-existent. Only the German Natrue label requires that no more than 15% of esterified and hydrogenated oils be used in creams. Nothing on the other hand of Cosmébio, the most widespread of the French labels, and the new European label Cosmos.

Esterified oil, palm oil, same fight!

In natural cosmetics, esterified oils are used at the expense of vegetable oils for their lower cost and drier feel. This substitution not only deprives your skin of the beneficial properties of the latter, but also has very harmful effects on the environment. Indeed, the vegetable oil most used to make esterified oils is palm oil, responsible for massive deforestation of the primary forests of Southeast Asia. Does it make sense for cosmetics that claim to be natural to degrade biodiversity? Of course it doesn’t.

Finally, make no mistake: are neither better for your skin, nor for your health!

At oOlution, it’s very, very simple, our maximum limit for the use of esterified oils is… 0%!

We use ONLY genuine vegetable oils(especially in our vegetable oil compositions), exclusively obtained by first cold pressing. They all come from Organic Agriculture or Sustainable Forest Harvesting for a superior quality… the only one worthy of your skin! 🙂

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