Caprylic triglyceride, or capric triglyceride, is a compound that combines fatty acids from natural oils, such as coconut oil, with glycerin. Soaps and cosmetics sometimes include caprylic triglyceride as an ingredient.

Although some companies market caprylic triglyceride as a natural ingredient, this is misleading, as it undergoes several manufacturing processes before appearing in products. The compound might cause side effects in some people.

This article discusses some of the benefits and risks of using products containing caprylic triglyceride.

Person using caprylic triglyceride product on face.Share on Pinterest
Guido Mieth/Getty Images

Caprylic triglyceride is a compound that comes from combining fatty acids with glycerin.

The fatty acids in the compound are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) note that these fatty acids come from rich oils, such as coconut or palm oil.

Manufacturers remove and isolate fatty acids from the oil as caprylic acid. They combine these pure fatty acids with glycerin to make capric or caprylic triglyceride.

The manufacturers then use several other processes to purify the compound. The CIR suggest that the end product typically contains impurities at about 300 parts per million free fatty acids and up to 0.2% glycerol.

Some manufacturers may label caprylic triglyceride as a natural product, which is misleading.

Although the compound has natural origins, it takes several stages of processing to purify and stabilize the compound in the end product. Caprylic triglyceride is highly purified and refined.

Some manufacturers incorrectly refer to the compound as fractionated coconut oil or MCT oil, but these oils are from a different compound.

The authors of a 2020 study in Frontiers in Nutrition state that MCT oil generally refers to caprylic and capric acid — the natural fatty acids from the oil itself.

Caprylic triglyceride has various uses, including:

Skin care

Caprylic triglyceride is a stable compound that has an oily texture. It can create a barrier on the skin’s surface to lock in moisture. Several skin care products contain caprylic triglyceride, such as:

  • face creams
  • body moisturizers
  • sunscreens
  • eye creams
  • anti-aging serums

Makeup

The compound is also a stable alternative to other oils. Cosmetics and makeup containing fatty compounds may use caprylic triglyceride. These products include:

  • lip balm
  • lip liner
  • lipstick
  • eyeliner
  • liquid foundation or blush

Manufacturers may prefer the compound over other options because it is smooth but not sticky or greasy.

Foods

Caprylic acid, the base for caprylic triglyceride, may also be present in preprepared foods, such as:

  • baked goods
  • soft candies
  • cheeses
  • frozen dairy products
  • gelatins and puddings
  • meat products

Caprylic triglyceride is a compound of glycerin and naturally occurring fatty acids from coconut or palm oil. The compound may have some benefits for the skin or the products that contain it.

Emollient

An emollient is an ingredient that softens the skin. Emollients form a protective layer on the skin, locking in moisture to prevent the skin from drying out.

The oily texture of caprylic triglyceride makes it a useful skin softener.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants serve several purposes in the body. For example, antioxidants can fight skin cell damage from the environment. The fatty acids in caprylic acid are antioxidants.

Solvent

Solvents help dissolve certain ingredients.

Caprylic triglyceride is an oily compound that can prevent ingredients from clumping together. Due to this property, it could improve the texture of products that contain the compound.

Dispersing agent

A dispersing agent stabilizes and binds ingredients in a product.

Caprylic triglyceride may help evenly distribute product ingredients, such as solid pigments, scents, or other compounds. This even distribution can create a more consistent texture and stable blend.

Interrupts microbial growth

Face products can change the microbial balance of the skin. They feed or inhibit certain types of microbes, particularly those that affect fat compounds.

A 2019 study in Cosmetics found that capric or caprylic compounds interfere with the growth of these microbes.

Experts generally recognize caprylic triglyceride as being safe.

For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) note that small amounts of caprylic acid are usually safe at certain levels in food products.

A report from the CIR also highlights several studies investigating the effects of caprylic triglyceride on the skin. The research shows that reactions to this compound are generally uncommon or mild, even at high doses.

However, some people should avoid these products, including those who have an allergy to coconut oil. It may still be possible to experience a reaction with purified ingredients.

Testing the product on a small patch of skin with the product first is a good way to check for a reaction.

People with environmental concerns may also wish to avoid caprylic triglyceride, as research shows that the farming of both palm and coconut oil is harmful to the environment.

Caprylic triglyceride is a common compound in skin care and beauty products. Some foods also contain caprylic or capric acid, which is the base of the compound.

The ingredients are generally safe in small amounts, but they can still cause a reaction in some people.