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Methyl Hydroxycinnamate: An In-Depth Look at Its Role in Cosmetics

Article last updated: June 13, 2024

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Ever wondered what gives your favorite skincare products their magical touch? Dive into the world of Methyl Hydroxycinnamate and uncover its secrets, from its creation to its myriad cosmetic benefits and potential side effects.

What Is Methyl Hydroxycinnamate?

Methyl Hydroxycinnamate, also known by its chemical names (E)-coumaric acid methyl ester, 2-Propenoic acid, 3-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-, methyl ester, and (Z)-coumaric acid methyl ester, is a versatile ingredient commonly found in cosmetic products. This compound is derived from hydroxycinnamic acid, a naturally occurring organic compound found in various plants. Its chemical structure includes a phenolic ring with a hydroxyl group, which contributes to its beneficial properties in skincare formulations.

The history of Methyl Hydroxycinnamate in cosmetics dates back to the exploration of plant-based compounds for their potential skin benefits. Researchers discovered that this ester form of hydroxycinnamic acid could provide multiple functionalities, making it a valuable addition to skincare and cosmetic products. Over time, its use has been refined and optimized, leading to its current widespread application in the beauty industry.

Methyl Hydroxycinnamate is typically synthesized through the esterification of coumaric acid with methanol. This process involves a chemical reaction where the hydroxyl group of the coumaric acid reacts with methanol, resulting in the formation of the ester. The resulting compound retains the beneficial properties of its parent acid while offering improved stability and compatibility with other cosmetic ingredients. This synthesis method ensures a consistent and high-quality ingredient suitable for various formulations.

The Benefits/Uses of Methyl Hydroxycinnamate

In this section, we will delve into the officially recognized cosmetic benefits and uses of Methyl Hydroxycinnamate:

Skin Conditioning

Methyl Hydroxycinnamate is known for its skin conditioning properties. This means it helps to maintain the skin in good condition by improving its appearance and texture. When used in cosmetic formulations, it can make your skin feel softer, smoother, and more supple. Essentially, it helps to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.


As an emollient, Methyl Hydroxycinnamate works to soften and soothe the skin. Emollients are crucial in skincare because they form a protective layer on the skin’s surface, trapping moisture and preventing dryness. This makes it an excellent ingredient for products aimed at hydrating and moisturizing the skin, ensuring it remains plump and hydrated.

Viscosity Controlling

Methyl Hydroxycinnamate also serves as a viscosity controlling agent. This means it helps to adjust the thickness of cosmetic products, ensuring they have the right consistency for easy application. Whether it’s a lotion, cream, or serum, this ingredient helps to achieve the perfect texture, making the product more pleasant to use and ensuring it spreads evenly on the skin.

Note: the listed benefits above are exclusively based on the officially recognized and defined functions of the ingredient, as documented by the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI).

Potential Side Effects & Other Considerations

Methyl Hydroxycinnamate is generally considered safe for topical use in cosmetic products. However, as with any ingredient, there are potential side effects and considerations to be aware of:

  • Skin irritation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Rash

Regarding individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, data and research on the topical usage of Methyl Hydroxycinnamate during pregnancy are lacking. Therefore, it is advisable for these individuals to consult a healthcare professional for further advice.

Adverse reactions to Methyl Hydroxycinnamate are relatively uncommon, but it is always prudent to perform a patch test before widespread usage to ensure there are no adverse reactions.

On a comedogenicity scale of 0 to 5, Methyl Hydroxycinnamate is rated as a 1, meaning it has a low likelihood of clogging pores. This makes it generally suitable for individuals prone to acne, blemishes, or breakouts, although individual reactions can vary.

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