Name / description

Capric Acid; Decanoic Acid

Function(s) of this ingredient in cosmetic products


Cleans skin, hair or teeth


Enhances the smell of a product and / or perfumes the skin


Part of perfume oils and / or flavours


Surface-active agent to clean skin, hair and / or teeth


Allows the formation of finely dispersed mixtures of oil and water (emulsions)



Background information on use in cosmetics

Fragrances or mixtures of fragrances are often referred to in the cosmetics area as "perfuming agents" or "perfume oils" or "parfum oils". On the cosmetic products they are declared with the INCI name "PARFUM". These are undiluted individual substances or their mixtures which originate from natural raw materials or can be produced (semi-) synthetically. They are starting materials for the production of perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne and other perfumed cosmetic products. The average content of fragrances amounts in perfume to 15-30 %, in eau de parfum to 10-14 %, in eau de toilette to 6-9 %, in eau de cologne to 3-5 % as well as in skin creams, shampoos, hair and deodorant sprays to approximately 0.2-1 % and approximately 1-3 in deodorant sticks. The perfume oils include essential oils, resinoids and absolutes. The sources are, amongst others, flowers, leaves and stems, fruits and fruit peels or roots of plants; woods, grasses or herbs, needles, resins and balsams. Moreover, only compounds isolated from natural products such as aldehydes, ketones, esters, alcohols etc. are used (geraniol, citronellal, citral, eugenol, menthol) as well as semi-synthetic (citronellol, geranyl acetate, jonone) and synthetic scents (eg phenylethyl alcohol and linalool) are used. Scents of animal origin such as musk and ambra are only rarely used. Surfactants are so-called detergent substances and have a major significance in cosmetics for the cleansing of the skin and hair. Surfactants are substances which, based on their molecular structure, are able to reduce the surface tension of a liquid. In this way it is possible that two actually not mixable substances, such as oil and water, can be finely mixed. Because of their properties, surfactants have manifold uses in cosmetics: they can cleanse, produce foam and act as emulsifiers and mix substances with one another. In shampoos, shower gels and soaps, surfactants are, for instance, used to wash fat and soil particles with water off from the body. Surfactants are also used in toothpaste. Here they promote during tooth cleaning the rapid and full dissolution and distribution of the paste in the mouth. The surfactants used in cosmetic products are primarily produced synthetically on the basis of vegetable raw materials. Surfactants are often used in combination to equally meet all desired requirements – like dissolution of soil and formation of foam in combination with a good skin tolerance – in the best possible manner. Through a skilled combination of a surfactant – viewed on its own – with unfavourable skin tolerance but a very good soil removal property with a very mild, skin protecting surfactant altogether a product with good cleansing properties and the same good skin tolerances is obtained. Emulsifiers are often used in cosmetics as excipients. They allow actually unmixable components like oil and water to be brought in a permanently stable emulsion. In this way both aqueous and oily care and active ingredients can be used in one and the same product in cosmetics. Emulsifiers are able to do that since their molecules consist of a lipophilic and a hydrophilic part. In this way they can reduce the interfacial tension which actually exists between two incompatible substances like fat and water. Emulsifiers are, more particularly, used for creams, lotions and cleansing agents. At present emulsifiers are, however, more than only excipients which keep an emulsion stable. Fatty acid esters on the basis of sugar, lecithin or glycerin monodistearate contribute, for instance, to improving the moisture balance of the skin and are, therefore, also considered as cosmetic active ingredients.

Belongs to the following substance groups

Understanding your cosmetics

How are cosmetics kept safe in Europe?

Strict laws make sure that cosmetics and personal care products sold in the European Union are safe for people to use. Companies, national and European regulatory authorities share the responsibility of keeping cosmetic products safe.

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What should I know about endocrine disruptors?

Some ingredients used in cosmetic products have been claimed to be ‘endocrine disruptors’ because they have the potential to mimic some of the properties of our hormones. Just because something has the potential to mimic a hormone does not mean it will disrupt our endocrine system. Many substances, including natural ones, mimic hormones but very few, and these are mostly potent medicines, have ever been shown to cause disruption of the endocrine system. The rigorous product safety assessments by qualified, scientific experts that companies are legally obliged to carry out cover all potential risks, including potential endocrine disruption.

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Are cosmetics tested on animals? No!

In the European Union, testing cosmetics on animals has been fully banned since 2013. Over the last 30 years, long before a ban was in place, the cosmetics and personal care industry has invested in research and development to pioneer alternatives to animal testing tools to assess the safety of cosmetics ingredients and products.

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What about allergens in cosmetics?

Many substances, natural or man-made, have the potential to cause an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to substances that are harmless to most people. A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an allergen. Cosmetics and personal care products may contain ingredients that can be allergenic for some people. This does not mean that the product is not safe for others to use.

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Cosmetics matter to people and play an important role in our everyday life. On average European consumers use over seven different cosmetics daily. You too? It’s only natural that you want to know more about the ingredients in those products.

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