What Is It?

Triacetin, an oil, is the triester of Glycerol and Acetic Acid. In cosmetics and personal-care products, it is used in makeup as well as in nail polish and nail enamel removers.

Why Is It Used?

Triacetin helps cleanse the skin or prevent odor by destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. It is also a plasticizer and commonly used carrier for flavors and fragrances.

Scientific Facts

Triacetin, or Glyceryl Triacetate, is a naturally occurring oil found in cod-liver oil, butter and other fats. Triacetin can also be synthesized for use in cosmetic products, as well as in foods and coatings of pharmaceutical capsules and tablets.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the safety of Triacetin and determined that it was Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use as a direct food substance. The safety of Triacetin has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel reviewed the scientific data and concluded that Triacetin was safe as used in cosmetic formulations.

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel considered the FDA’s affirmation of glycerides, including Triacetin, as a GRAS human food ingredient as support of the overall safety of this ingredient for cosmetic use. The CIR Expert Panel concluded that the use of Triacetin in cosmetics does not present a risk of reproductive or developmental toxicity because Triacetin is hydrolyzed to glycerol and acetic acid, and these chemicals are not developmental toxins. The CIR Expert Panel also noted reports indicating that 1,2-Glyceryl diesters can affect cell growth and proliferation.

Although Triacetin is a Glyceryl triester, there would be some small amounts of Glyceryl diesters present, some of which could be 1,2-Glyceryl diesters. The CIR Expert Panel concluded, however, that the effects of 1,2-Glyceryl diesters require ester chains longer than two carbon atoms on the Glycerin backbone. Thus, any Glyceryl 1,2-Diacetyl esters present in Triacetin would be not increase cell growth.

FDA: Link to the Code of Federal Regulations for Triacetin…

Triacetin may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union. Ingredients of animal origin must comply with European Union animal by-products regulations.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:…

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has not specified an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for Triacetin. Total daily intake of Triacetin does not, in the opinion of the Committee, represent a hazard to health, and the establishment of an ADI in mg/kg bw is not deemed necessary.

More Scientific Information

Triacetin is the triester of Glycerin and Acetic Acid and is used as a cosmetic biocide, plasticizer and solvent in cosmetic formulations. Plasticizers are materials which soften synthetic polymers. They are frequently required to avoid brittleness and cracking of film formers.

Water, sometimes in combination with hygroscopic materials, is the common plasticizer for natural polymers and proteins. A variety of organic substances, such as esters, have been found useful for plasticizing synthetic polymers.


Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration

Food Ingredients and Packaging:

Food Contact Substances:…

Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS):

Search the Code of Federal Regulations

EU Cosmetics Inventory