Fractionated Coconut Oil - The Oil That Isn't There
If you're in the habit of checking ingredients lists on cosmetics, you've probably run into the name caprylic/capric triglyceride a number of times. The common name for this ingredient is fractionated coconut oil. Unsurprisingly, fractionated coconut oil is pretty much what the common name implies – a fraction of the whole oil.
I know what you're thinking...
The main reason for fractionating coconut oil is to extract lauric acid, which coconut oil happens to contain a healthy proportion of. Lauric acid is interesting and special because it converts into a fat called monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin is interesting and special because it "may be useful in the prevention and treatment of bacterial infection" (read more here) and is otherwise only found one other place in the entire world – human breast milk! Lauric acid is therefore particularly useful for foodstuffs such as baby formula. It also has medical applications.
Why Fractionate Coconut Oil?
What Happens to the RestAfter the lauric acid is removed, the remaining oil is (often) referred to as caprylic/capric triglyceride. In case you're wondering (I know you are), caprylic/capric triglyceride is a medium-chain triglyceride oil consisting of 8-carbon medium chain caprylic and 10-carbon capric acids. It is this fractionated part of the coconut oil that you find in numerous cosmetics.
Fractionated coconut oil is tolerated by all skin types – even sensitive – and has a very long shelf life. It functions as a skin conditioner by providing a protective layer that helps lock in moisture. It also adds 'slip' to products as well as some thickness. In make-up it adds a silky feel. In short, is a wonderfully neutral oil that is easy to partner with other ingredients. It is only within the last year that I have worked with fractionated coconut oil, so my experience with it is, as yet, a bit limited. It is unquestionably the runniest and mildest oil I have ever worked with.
What Does it have to Offer (Now That All The Good Stuff is Gone)
Look, Scent and FeelThe Look: completely colorless and crystal clear. In the bottle, you'd swear it wasn't oil but some kind of 'slightly thick water'. It doesn't bring any color to a mix.
The Scent: is.. well, not there. There's simply no discernable scent. Having an ingredient that is so neutral it doesn't have to be 'taken into consideration' when being added to a formula is a pleasant change for me.
The Feel: as neutral and 'quiet' as the look and scent. It is non-greasy and just seems to melt right in, leaving a silky smooth feel.
And another thing: Although I like the idea of using 'the leftovers' as it were, so as not to waste the caprylic/capric triglyceride left over when extracting the lauric acid (do you know how that's done, by the way? Is it a heat treatment?), I wonder why you wouldn't prefer to use an oil which you know ALSO has some umph in your oil blends?
GREAT blog, by the way! :) 'looking forward to your answer.
@Hi - Thanks for your kind words. You ask great questions! Yes, it is edible and is used in several areas of commercial food production.
The most popular method of extraction (read: cheapest and most effective) is steam distillation. Kinda cool that the extraction method is the best of both worlds. Mind you, I haven't done in-depth research on the specific processing techniques (but will be checking into this more now that you got me all curious).
As for the missing 'oomph factor' you mention, this is one of the reasons I hadn't really chosen to work with it before relatively recently. It was my quest for a light and effective eyeshadow binder that got me started with it. Once the bottle was opened, I couldn't help trying it out for other things - just to get properly acquainted with it and see what it could do. The fact that it is tolerated by even super sensitive skin is a huge plus. I have quite a few clients that fit this bill, and it just gives me another option when putting together a formula for a client with special requirements.