Lauric Acid


Cleansing Agent

Lauric Acid at a glance

  • Natural component of skin’s oil
  • Plays a role in reinforcing skin’s innate defenses by strengthening its microbiome
  • Functions as a cleansing agent/emulsifier in cosmetic formulas
  • Studies have shown lauric acid offers antimicrobial activity
  • Can be sourced from coconut oil, babassu butter and other natural fats

Lauric Acid description

Lauric acid is one of several fatty acids found in coconut oil, babassu butter and other natural fats. It’s a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) also naturally present in skin’s oil. This fatty acid plays an important role in reinforcing skin’s innate defenses by strengthening its microbiome. Lauric acid has multiple uses in cosmetics, including as an emulsifier and texture-enhancing ingredient. Its natural bay leaf-like scent can be used in high amounts to add fragrance to products, but it’s more often used as a base for cleansing agents, and, increasingly, for its skin-soothing actions. Some studies have shown it can also have antimicrobial activity. Research continues to investigate lauric acid’s benefits as an adjunct to anti-blemish treatments. As a raw material, lauric acid can appear as a colourless solid or as a slightly glossy white or yellow crystalline solid or powder. It may be animal- or plant-derived; Paula’s Choice uses the latter. Lauric acid is typically used in under 10% concentration in cosmetic formulas but has been deemed safe in higher concentrations (up to 25%).

Lauric Acid references

  • Dermatologic Therapy, July 2020, pages 1-4
  • IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, June 2020, pages 1-6
  • Biomaterials, October 2009, pages 6,035-6,040
  • Journal of the American college of Toxicology, 1987, pages 1-81
  • Tenside Surfactants Detergents, December 1976, pages 313-316

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.