THE MAGIC OF MCT OIL

IN ESSENCE...



 

WHAT IS MCT OIL?

 

MCT Oil is a type of oil synthesized from pure Coconut Oil (and sometimes Palm Oil). It is composed predominantly of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). This causes it to display special qualities and properties including high stability, lightweight texture, fast absorption, colorless or very pale-colored appearance, and an extremely light odor while retaining the skin-replenishing and moisturizing benefits of the source fatty acids.

MCT Oils in general are employed extensively across a wide range of sectors, including cosmetics, personal care, aromatherapy, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, and medicine.

Medium-Chain Triglycerides In A Nutshell

The term 'triglyceride' refers to a type of lipid that is made up of the elements carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O). These elements are arranged in the form of a glycerol unit (the structural 'backbone' of the triglyceride compound), alongside three chains of fatty acids attached to it. Due to the varying chemical composition of fatty acids, they come in different sizes and can be classified according to the number of carbon atoms they have. Short-chain fatty acids have less than 6 carbon atoms, medium-chain fatty acids have 6-12 carbon atoms, while long-chain fatty acids have 13-21 carbon atoms.

Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are naturally-occurring triglyceride compounds that consist of a glycerol component with fatty acid chains that are medium-sized in length; in other words, they are composed of medium-chain fatty acids. These could be any one of the following:

MCTs can be found in vegetable oils and animal dairy products such as milk, butter, clarified butter, and cheese. Coconut Oil and Palm Oil are both rich sources of MCTs, and MCT Oil is therefore made from these natural oils. The table below shows the typical relative composition of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in both oils*:

MCFA Composition of Coconut/Palm Oil Caproic Acid (C6) Caprylic Acid (C8) Capric Acid (C10) Lauric Acid (C12)

Coconut Oil

0.5%

6.8%

5.4%

42%

Palm Oil

0.2%

3.3%

3.7%

47%

*SOURCE: USDA FoodData Central

While technically classified as a medium-chain fatty acid, Lauric Acid (C12) behaves much like a long-chain fatty acid. It is therefore not considered to be as useful or beneficial in cosmetic, industrial, or health applications of MCT Oil, and is removed in high-quality MCT Oils. NDA's MCT Oils consist of Caprylic Acid (C8) and Capric Acid (C10) fatty acids, along with a small proportion of Caproic Acid (C6).

What Does The '60/40' in 'MCT 60/40 Oil' Refer To?

The term '60/40' refers to the ratio of C8 and C10 fatty acids, which will be present in a ratio of 60:40 in such an oil. As MCT 60/40 Oil consists almost entirely of these two fatty acids, it can therefore be said to be made up of 60% of C8 and 40% of C10 fatty acids.

There are other types of MCT Oils available in varying ratios, such as '70/30' (70:30 ratio of C8 and C10 fatty acids).

Is There A Difference Between MCT Oil And Fractionated Coconut Oil?

MCT Oil derived from Coconut Oil may be called Fractionated Coconut Oil. However, it is important to note that the term 'Fractionated Coconut Oil' can also refer to a product in which Coconut Oil has undergone simple fractionation to remove its long-chain fatty acids; in other words, there is no esterification involved. Thus, in this case, Fractionated Coconut Oil can be defined as simply a fraction of the fixed oil, but MCT Oil is in fact an ester and no longer carries an 'oily' feel. This difference is reflected in their INCI names: Fractionated Coconut Oil remains 'Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil' while MCT Oil (both Palm or Coconut-derived) becomes 'Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides'.

As Fractionated Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera Oil) is also high in MCTs, its physical and chemical characteristics can be very similar to MCT Oil. However, as MCT Oil is an ester, it has an even lighter, more powdery, non-oily texture and has a faster absorbency speed compared to Fractionated Coconut Oil.



 

MCT OIL BENEFITS & COMPOSITION

 

Due to its uniquely customized chemical make-up, MCT Oil displays wide-ranging benefits that relate to its appealing sensory and physicochemical characteristics. The main chemical constituents responsible for these characteristics are Caprylic Acid (C8) and Capric Acid (C10), which makes up roughly 60% and 40% of the oil, respectively. These fatty acids also contribute to the nourishing cosmetic and health benefits observed with MCT Oil.

The beneficial physio-chemical properties of MCT Oil include:

In addition to these characteristics, Caprylic Acid (C8) and Capric Acid (C10) fatty acids are believed to have extensive benefits for skincare and health:

The following summary highlights the therapeutic properties and activities that MCT Oil is believed to show:

COSMETIC: Emollient (Soothing/Softening), Conditioning, Hydrating, Revitalizing, Strengthening, Protective, Clarifying, Anti-Aging, Anti-Acne, Anti-Irritant

MEDICINAL: Anti-Microbial, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Oxidant, Regulative, Preventative, Energy Aid, Digestive Aid, Weight Reduction

Used in aromatherapy and massage applications, MCT Oil functions as an ideal carrier oil for essential oils due to its easy-to-use liquid state and mild odor. It is popular amongst massage therapists due to its quick-absorbing, non-greasy, and non-staining properties.

Used in skincare, haircare, and cosmetic products, MCT Oil provides a light and highly stable moisturizing base that carries neutral sensory characteristics (odor and color), thus contributing to a positive consumer experience. Formulators who wish to avoid the 'heavy' or 'nutty' smells associated with virgin or unprocessed botanical oils will find the very light characteristic scent of MCT Oil highly desirable, and it also provides a good alternative for Mineral Oil. In addition, due to its non-oily, more powdery texture, MCT oil can enhance the consistency of an emulsion which can add to the performance perception by the consumer and is also ideal in rinse-off products. Similarly, MCT Oil is excellent in volumizing hair care formulations as the use of 'heavier' oils often tend to weigh the hair down and counteract the volumizing effect. Unlike Coconut Oil, MCT Oil is also non-comedogenic, suitable for all skin types, and can be used in applications such as oil cleansing.

Used in medicine and nutrition, MCT Oil has built a reputation of being a more potent, easily absorbed, rapidly digested dietary product that can be useful for those with nutritional or lipid metabolism disorders. Unlike other fats, MCTs display an unconventional metabolic pathway. Through the portal vein, they reach the liver directly and undergo oxidation to eventually produce ketones. This rapidly occurring process, bypassing the natural, more time-consuming digestive process, is regarded to be highly beneficial for energy, fitness, and weight loss.

Note: NDA's MCT Oil is cosmetic-grade and not meant for ingestion.



 

HOW IS MCT OIL MADE?

 

MCT Oils can be made from both Coconut or Palm Oil, as they are both rich sources of the required medium-chain fatty acids.

Crude Coconut Oil or Palm Oil first undergoes hydrolysis, which essentially separates the fatty acids from the glycerol 'backbone' within their fat compounds. The fatty acids can then be separated based on their boiling points through fractional distillation. As medium-chain fatty acids have lower boiling points than long-chain fatty acids, they can be collected by heating and allowing to cool at appropriate temperatures.

Once the medium-chain fatty acids are isolated, they are combined with glycerol once again to form Medium-Chain Triglycerides in a process known as esterification. This is a dehydration synthesis reaction, in which two compounds fuse together to produce water as a by-product. A catalyst may be used, although it is not necessary.

As this is a highly targeted process, the desired ratios of C8 and C10 can be used in esterification. Thus, in an MCT 60/40 oil, 60% of the fatty acids used will be Caprylic Acid (C8) and 40% will be Capric Acid (C10).

Finally, filtering and deodorization take place to clean and improve the sensorial characteristics of the resulting MCT Oil.



 

MCT OIL USES

 

Due to its remarkable versatility and appealing sensory characteristics, MCT Oil is incorporated in a wide range of applications in the personal care, cosmetic, and aromatherapy sectors. On its own, it may be used as a cosmetic, massage, and carrier oil, or it can be incorporated in the manufacturing of creams, lotions, cleansing oils, salves, body butter, bath scrubs, makeup, and many other nourishing products.

Used topically in skincare regimens, MCT Oil acts as an excellent non-greasy and non-comedogenic emollient. For lasting hydration and softness, apply a few drops of MCT Oil on the face and neck using clean fingertips or a facial cotton pad. For those with normal, dry, or mature skin types, it can be used by itself as a soothing serum or light facial oil that, once absorbed, provides an effective base for makeup application. MCT Oil is also ideal for oil cleansing, as it gently lifts off dirt residues and excess oils without dehydrating the skin or clogging pores. To oil cleanse, add several drops of MCT Oil into a clean cloth or face towel slightly dampened with water before gently massaging the face in circular motions. Once all impurities or makeup has been dislodged, use another damp cloth to wipe and dry the face, or follow up with a typical cleanser if desired.

Used on the body, MCT Oil functions as a moisturizing body oil that leaves the skin silky soft and soothed after shaving. It is best applied after a bath or shower to lock in moisture and maintain skin hydration. Used in hair, MCT Oil can quickly transform the appearance of dry, unhealthy locks by adding luster and moisture; those with dry, flaky scalps can benefit from a scalp and hair massage with this rejuvenating oil. Due to the quick-absorbing nature of MCT Oil, it is a great oil to carry and apply on-the-ago to prevent issues of dryness or irritation.

The lips and nails are both regions that can also be beautified through the nourishing properties of MCT Oil. To rehydrate, exfoliate, and soften chapped lips, a simple lip scrub can be made by combining a teaspoon of MCT Oil with 1.5 teaspoons of raw sugar to create a paste. Apply this mixture onto the lips and gently rub to remove dead or chapped skin before rinsing and re-applying a few drops of MCT Oil for additional shine and softness. To nourish dry, cracked cuticles, soak the fingers in a small bowl of MCT Oil for five minutes, and then massage the oil around the nail bed to stimulate blood flow and condition the surrounding skin.

For aromatherapy, MCT Oil acts as an ideal carrier oil with a neutral odor and a long shelf life. When combined with essential oils, it enables their beautiful aromas to be released without any masking, and, when applied topically, helps their therapeutic benefits be assimilated quickly and effectively through the skin. To create a 1.5% dilution of your favorite essential oil, simply combine 30 mL/1 fl. oz. of MCT Oil (roughly 2 tablespoons) with 9 drops of a desired essential oil (or essential oil blend). Depending on the chosen essential oil's therapeutic properties and safety guidelines, this can be used as a body oil, hair oil, bath oil, and massage oil, or incorporated into many other therapeutic remedies. To make your own personalized aromatherapy perfume, add 5 drops of a chosen essential oil or blend into a 10 mL (0.35 oz.) aromatherapy roller bottle and top off with MCT Oil. Swirl to mix the oils together, then roll onto the neck, wrists, and inner elbows for a lasting natural fragrance.

MCT Oil is particularly popular amongst massage therapists as it is easy to use, lightweight, and dries quickly without being greasy. Unlike other oils, it also does not typically stain clothing. Its reputed antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects further help improve the skin's complexion and facilitate massage therapy by improving the absorption of essential oils and other therapeutic constituents.



 

A GUIDE TO MCT OIL VARIETIES & THEIR BENEFITS

 
MCT OIL VARIETY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN DERIVED FROM BENEFITS OF OIL

MCT 60/40 Fractionated 100% Coconut Oil - Coconut Fractionated - Verified by ECOCERT

(INCI: Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides)

Malaysia

100% Coconut

Believed to:
  • Be an excellent fit for sustainable or eco-friendly cosmetic branding
  • Be a clear, colorless to very pale yellow liquid
  • Be extremely stable and exhibit resistance to oxidation
  • Be an effective and non-greasy emollient
  • Readily penetrate the skin to deliver the therapeutics of essential oils and other actives
  • Support in the nourishment of skin health and help relieve dry or irritated skin symptoms
  • Meet the quality standards of the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Pharmacopoeia for use in health and beauty products

MCT 60/40 Fractionated 100% Coconut Organic Oil

(INCI: Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides)

Sri Lanka

100% Coconut

Believed to:
  • Be an excellent fit for organic brands or formulations
  • Be a clear, colorless to very pale yellow liquid
  • Be extremely stable and exhibit resistance to oxidation
  • Be an effective and non-greasy emollient
  • Readily penetrate the skin to deliver the therapeutics of essential oils and other actives
  • Support in the nourishment of skin health and help relieve dry or irritated skin symptoms
  • Meet the quality standards of the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Pharmacopoeia for use in health and beauty products

Medium Chain Triglyceride - MCT 60/40 Oil

(INCI: Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides)

Malaysia

100% Palm

Believed to:
  • Be a clear, colorless to very pale yellow liquid
  • Be extremely stable and exhibit resistance to oxidation
  • Be an effective and non-greasy emollient
  • Readily penetrate the skin to deliver the therapeutics of essential oils and other actives
  • Support in the nourishment of skin health and help relieve dry or irritated skin symptoms
  • Meet the quality standards of the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Pharmacopoeia for use in health and beauty products


 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

Interested in discovering the benefits and uses of other popular Carrier Oils? Learn more by reading our articles on Sweet Almond Carrier Oil, Jojoba Carrier Oil, and Avocado Carrier Oil!



 

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR MCT OIL

 

As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, MCT Oil is for external use only. While unlikely, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to the topic use of this oil. Those with allergies to Coconut Oil should avoid the use of MCT Oil. As with all other oils, a patch test should be conducted on the inner arm using a dime-size amount of MCT Oil to check for sensitivities.

This product should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

MCT Oil must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

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