Methyl Myristate: An Essential Ingredient In Cosmetics And Personal Care Products
Methyl Myristate: An Essential Ingredient In Cosmetics And Personal Care Products
Methyl myristate is an ester formed from myristic acid and methanol.

What is Methyl Myristate?
 Chemically, it is classified as a myristate ester. Myristic acid is a saturated fatty acid that commonly occurs in plant and animal fats. It contains 14 carbon atoms arranged in an unbranched hydrocarbon chain, with a carboxyl group at one end. When myristic acid reacts with methanol in the presence of an acid or base catalyst, it produces methyl myristate.

The chemical formula of methyl myristate is C16H32O2. It is an oily liquid with a faint fatty odor at room temperature. Some key physical properties of methyl myristate include a melting point of -8°C, boiling point of 294°C, and density of 0.86 grams per mL. Commercially, it is produced through the transesterification of palm oil or coconut oil with methanol.

Uses and Applications

Due to its low cost and wide availability, Methyl Myristate finds various applications in industries such as cosmetics, food, pharmaceuticals, and others. Some major uses of methyl myristate are:

- Cosmetics and Personal Care: It is widely used as an emollient in cosmetic products like moisturizers, lotions, and creams. As an emollient, it helps to soften and smooth the skin. Methyl myristate effectively spreads over the skin and forms an invisible protective layer.

- Flavor Enhancer: In the food industry, it is employed as a flavoring agent to enhance flavors like nutty and creamy notes in foods. Very small amounts of 0.001-0.1% are sufficient to impact the taste. Bakery products, snacks, sauces, and dressings are common applications.

- Pharmaceuticals: Due to its high lipid solubility, methyl myristate acts as an effective solvent and emulsifier for various pharmaceutical formulations including ointments and creams. It helps in improving the penetration and bioavailability of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

- Paints and Coatings: As a non-volatile solvent, it is used in paints, coatings, and inks. Methyl myristate enhances adhesion, lubrication and flow properties of these formulations.

Health and Toxicity Profile

Generally recognized as safe for use in cosmetics, methyl myristate has low acute toxicity. The median lethal dose (LD50) in rats is over 5000 mg/kg body weight when taken orally, indicating a low potential for harm. No evidence exists for it causing cancer, genetic damage or adverse reproductive effects even at high doses.

However, like other myristate esters, methyl myristate is readily absorbed into the body after topical application or ingestion. It can interact with cell membranes due to its lipophilic nature. In rare cases of excessive usage or hypersensitivity, it may potentially cause skin or eye irritation on direct contact. No other safety risks are established for most cosmetic and food uses under prescribed limits.

Sourcing and Regulations

Commercially, methyl myristate is available from multiple specialty chemical manufacturers worldwide. The major producers are located in China, India, Europe and the United States.

Being used extensively in personal care products and food applications, there are certain quality and purity specifications set by regulatory agencies for methyl myristate. For example, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has approved it as a direct food additive. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel in the US has also reviewed its safety for use in cosmetic formulations. Similarly, international organizations like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Cosmetics Europe have no objections regarding its use levels. Manufacturers are expected to adhere to good manufacturing practices and ensure product quality meets all regulatory standards.

Methyl myristate is a useful myristate ester derivative with wide applications ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. Its gentle emollient properties and solubilizing action have made it a popular ingredient globally. With low toxicity risks established through scientific research and regulatory clearances, methyl myristate is considered safe for consumer product formulations when manufactured and used as directed. It will continue playing an important role in various industries requiring emollients and solvents in their finished products.




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