Behenic Acid


Texture enhancer

No known benefits

Behenic Acid at a glance

  • A saturated fatty acid primarily used as a thickener and opacifying agent
  • Sometimes used as a replacement for the lighter-weight ingredient stearic acid
  • Works with traditional cleansing agents as a co-surfactant
  • Considered safe as used in rinse-off and leave-on cosmetics

Behenic Acid description

Behenic acid is a fatty acid that is used as a thickener, cleansing agent, and opacifier in cosmetics. Also known as docosanoic acid, this ingredient may be plant-derived or synthetic. It’s a major component of moringa oil and is also found in peanut oil. The saturated nature of this long-chain (more than 20 carbon molecules) wax-like fatty acid is what gives it opacifying and texture-enhancing properties. It is sometimes used as an alternative to stearic acid, a decision dependent on desired aesthetics. Despite this being a saturated fatty acid, its lower molecular weight and affinity for skin enable it to enhance the penetration of other ingredients without posing a risk of irritation. Although also categorized as a surfactant (cleansing agent) behenic acid is typically used with pure surfactants to create fatty acid-enhanced oil-gel textures that can capably yet gently remove excess oil and long-wearing, more tenacious ingredients. Usage levels of behenic acid in cosmetics range from 0.024–22%. Products like lipstick that may lead to incidental ingestion may contain up to 14% behenic acid. All of these amounts are considered safe for skin.

Behenic Acid references

  • Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, February 2020, pages 874–884
  • Experimental Dermatology, January 2017, pages 36-43
  • Biophysical Journal, June 2015, pages 2670-2679
  • British Journal of Dermatology, February 2012, pages 279-287
  • Cosmetics and Toiletries, April 2008

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.