One of the fatty acids found in coconut oil and other natural fats, lauric acid has multiple uses in cosmetics. It’s natural bay-like scent can be used in high amounts to add fragrance to products but it is more often used as a base for detergent cleansing agents, and, increasingly, for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions.
Research has shown that lauric acid works on skin to control acne-causing bacteria. It seems lauric acid can fuse itself to the bacterial membrane, preventing acne-causing bacteria from proliferating. Lauric acid can also reduce inflammation from acne.
For the purposes of this site and for finding product dupes, lauric acid is (at this time) not considered if its in the ingredient list of a cleanser or wash-off product.
Journal of Dermatological Science, March 2014, pages 232-240
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2010, pages 985-994 and October 2009, pages 2,480-2,488