"C15-19 Alkane" is a versatile ingredient used in a variety of cosmetic products, such as moisturising creams, oily serums, hair masks and much more. But what exactly is behind this term?
What is "C15-19 Alkane" and what is its purpose?
What exactly 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 colourless, odourless, and has a light and dry touch. Furthermore, this oil is inert, non-polar and versatile. Apparently, it could be a perfect alternative to petroleum-based hydrocarbons like isohexadecane and to low molecular weight silicone ingredients such as cyclomethicone.
The alkane C15-19 is derived from synthetic biology using sugar plants (beetroot, sugarcane) or starchy cereals (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 treatments is derived from sugarcane glucose.
Why use "C15-19 Alkane" in cosmetic formulas?
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 biotechnological oily 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 uniformity of the product and reducing the sensation of organic UV filters. Its role focuses on the transportation of active ingredients in the skincare product to ensure 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-sensitising, 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.