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C15-19 Alkane.

What is "C15-19 Alkane" and what is its purpose?

The "C15-19 Alkane" is a versatile ingredient used in a variety of cosmetic products, such as moisturizing creams, oily serums, hair masks, and much more. But what exactly is behind this term?

Published June 27, 2023, updated on February 5, 2024, by Stéphanie, Doctorate in Life and Health Sciences — 3 min read

What is C15-19 Alkane?

The "C15-19 Alkane" (MW = 242.41 g/mol) is the INCI name for the hemisqualane, a linear and branched alkane composed of 15 to 19 carbon atoms in the alkyl chain. Indeed, the numbers preceding the letter "C" refer to the range of alkyl chain lengths.

Liposoluble, this substance has a liquid appearance, is colorless, odorless, and has a light and dry touch. Moreover, this oil is inert, non-polar, and versatile. Apparently, it would constitute a perfect alternative to petroleum-based hydrocarbons like isohexadecane and to low molecular weight silicone ingredients like cyclomethicone.

The alkane C15-19 is derived from synthetic biology using sugar plants (beet, sugarcane) or starchy grains (potato, corn, etc.), combining fermentative biotechnology in the presence of genetically modified organisms (bacteria, yeast, etc.), enzymatic transformation, and synthetic organic chemistry (hydrogenation).

Non-existent in its natural state, the hemisqualane we use in our skincare products is derived from sugarcane glucose.

Using "C15-19 Alkane" in Cosmetic Formulas: Why?

The C15-19 alkane is primarily a emollient, whose properties are similar to those offered by silicone oils and mineral oils. It helps to improve the texture of the formulations in which it is used due to its high spreadability, and contributes to making the skin smooth and soft after application. Indeed, it creates light textures with a non-sticky and non-greasy finish. In hair care, used as a conditioner, it is added to formulas with the aim of providing them with softness and shine without leaving greasy residues.

This oily biotechnological ingredient is also used in the field of cosmetology as a solvent, in addition to helping disperse mineral UV filters (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), thus contributing to the product's uniformity and reducing the sensation of organic UV filters. Its role involves transporting active ingredients in the skincare product so that they are evenly distributed. It dissolves, dilutes, or extracts certain active principles in order to combine them with others, without denaturing them.

And what about its safety profile?

Identified as non-irritating and non-sensitizing, the C15-19 alkane is safe for skin and hair when used in low concentrations. However, it can cause allergic reactions on very sensitive skin. Therefore, it is recommended to perform a patch test before using it. Lastly, "C15-19 Alkane" is not comedogenic and is biodegradable, thus not contributing to environmental pollution.


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