Capric Triglyceride Is a Unicorn of an Ingredient—Here's Why

Coconut oil and coconuts.

Liz DeSousa for Byrdie

'Capric triglyceride' is a mouthful of an ingredient name, and if you're anything like us, it likely makes you think of the results of a cholesterol test more than anything else. But, it's actually a very commonly used skincare ingredient found in a laundry list of different products.

What sets it apart from other ingredients? It's somewhat of a unicorn in the skincare world, used primarily for formulation purposes, but also with the added benefit of actually doing some great things for your skin as well. Here, board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, founder of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, MD, and cosmetic scientist Shuting Hu, formulator and founder of Acaderma, explain everything there is to know about capric triglyceride.

Meet the Expert

  • Ife J. Rodney is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, MD
  • Shuting Hu is a cosmetic scientist and the formulator and founder of Acaderma.

Capric Triglyceride

Type of ingredient: Fatty acid and emollient

Main benefits: It's most often used for formulation purposes as an excellent emulsifier and dispersing agent, notes Rodney. However, it also helps hydrate the skin and is an antioxidant.

Who should use it: It's safe for almost all people to use, except those with a coconut allergy, says Rodney.

Works well with: Fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, D, and K, though it plays nicely with most ingredients, hence its appearance in so many different formulas.

Don't use with: According to Hu, capric triglyceride doesn't react negatively with any specific ingredients.

What Is Capric Triglyceride?

"Capric triglycerides, sometimes called caprylic triglycerides, are fatty acids made with parts of coconut oil or palm kernel oil that are combined with glycerin," explains Rodney. Coconut oil is obviously a well-known skincare fan favorite, and capric triglyceride capitalizes on its many benefits. "Coconut oil contains a host of excellent fatty acids, including capric acid and caprylic acid. The process of creating capric triglycerides involves extracting these fats from coconut oil, removing the glycol, then adding back glycerin as a purification process," says Rodney.

Benefits of Capric Trigylceride for Skin

Full disclosure, the ingredient is first used for formulation purposes. As a result, it's often found in moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup, and soap, notes Hu. She adds that it works as a great binding agent and, even though it is derived from richer oils such as coconut and palm, still boasts a light and silky texture. It also helps other ingredients blend well together, and "although you can't find capric triglycerides in nature, it does have 'natural properties,' and as such is found in many clean beauty products," says Rodney. But as mentioned, it can do some good things for your skin, too.

  • Hydrates the skin: Capric triglyceride is an emollient, helping to soften and smooth the skin's surface and helping skin retain moisture, notes Rodney. (And again, it does so without ever feeling greasy or heavy.)
  • Has antioxidant properties: "Caprylic acid, a key component of capric triglyceride, is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals that can cause skin damage and signs of aging," says Hu.
  • Helps rebalance the skin's microbiome: Hu references a 2019 study that found the ingredient helped prevent certain bacterial growth (which tracks, given that coconut oil is a well-known antimicrobial).

How to Use It

At the end of the day, "Capric triglyceride is a non-toxic ingredient that works very well in product formulations. Its skincare benefits are like the cherry on top, but you rarely have to seek out products that specifically include it because it's such a versatile and popular ingredient. It’s most likely already in many of your favorites," says Hu. The point being, don't worry about looking for it or getting hung up on a specific way to use it. Just know that many products contain it, and it is doing some good things for your skin.

Side Effects

One of the reasons why capric triglyceride is so popular and prevalent is that it's non-irritating and safe for all skin types, a point made by both of our experts. The one caveat? "If you have a severe coconut allergy, avoid the ingredient," cautions Rodney. Still, it's generally considered extremely low-risk, adds Hu.

Related Stories