C12-16 Alcohols vs. C14-22 Alcohols

What's the Difference?

C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols are both fatty alcohols commonly used in skincare and haircare products. The main difference between the two is their carbon chain length, with C12-16 alcohols having a shorter chain length compared to C14-22 alcohols. This difference in chain length can affect the properties of the alcohols, such as their melting point, viscosity, and emollient properties. C14-22 alcohols are typically more moisturizing and have a thicker consistency compared to C12-16 alcohols, making them more suitable for dry or mature skin types.


AttributeC12-16 AlcoholsC14-22 Alcohols
Carbon Chain Length12-1614-22
Physical State at Room TemperatureVaries (liquid to solid)Varies (liquid to solid)
Common UsesEmollients, surfactantsEmollients, surfactants
Chemical FormulaR-OH (where R is a carbon chain of 12-16 carbons)R-OH (where R is a carbon chain of 14-22 carbons)

Further Detail


Alcohols are organic compounds that contain a hydroxyl group (-OH) bonded to a carbon atom. They are commonly used in various industries, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and cleaning products. C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols are two types of alcohols that are widely used in these industries. In this article, we will compare the attributes of C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols to understand their differences and similarities.

Chain Length

The main difference between C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols lies in their chain length. C12-16 alcohols have carbon chains that range from 12 to 16 carbon atoms, while C14-22 alcohols have carbon chains that range from 14 to 22 carbon atoms. This difference in chain length can impact the physical and chemical properties of these alcohols.

Physical Properties

C12-16 alcohols are typically liquid at room temperature, while C14-22 alcohols are usually solid or waxy substances. This difference in physical state is due to the longer carbon chains present in C14-22 alcohols, which increase their melting point and make them solid at room temperature. The physical properties of these alcohols can affect their usability in different applications.

Chemical Properties

Both C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols are fatty alcohols, which means they are derived from natural fats and oils. These alcohols have emollient properties, making them suitable for use in skincare products to moisturize and soften the skin. However, the longer carbon chains in C14-22 alcohols can provide enhanced moisturizing effects compared to C12-16 alcohols.


C12-16 alcohols are commonly used in the formulation of hair care products, such as shampoos and conditioners, due to their ability to condition and soften the hair. On the other hand, C14-22 alcohols are often used in skincare products, such as creams and lotions, for their moisturizing properties. The choice between C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols depends on the specific application and desired effects.


When it comes to sustainability, C12-16 alcohols are often preferred over C14-22 alcohols due to their shorter carbon chains. Shorter carbon chains are easier to source from renewable resources, such as plant oils, making C12-16 alcohols more environmentally friendly. However, advancements in technology have made it possible to produce C14-22 alcohols from sustainable sources as well.

Regulatory Considerations

Both C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols are considered safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products by regulatory authorities such as the FDA and the European Union. However, it is essential to follow guidelines and regulations regarding the use of these alcohols to ensure product safety and compliance. Manufacturers must also consider any restrictions or limitations on the use of these alcohols in specific regions.


In conclusion, C12-16 alcohols and C14-22 alcohols have distinct attributes that make them suitable for different applications in various industries. While C12-16 alcohols are known for their conditioning properties in hair care products, C14-22 alcohols excel in moisturizing skincare products. Understanding the differences between these alcohols can help manufacturers choose the right ingredient for their formulations and meet the needs of consumers effectively.

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