I have been asked many a times this question so thought it was time to set out the facts in a blog for all to read! Lets discuss the 2 types of alcohol that are commonly used in skin care products. alcohol ethanol 1) Ethyl Alcohol - commonly known as Ethanol.
  • This is the type of alcohol that we find in beer and wine as well as hair sprays and facial toners.
  • To prevent curious kids from ingesting their facial toner, this form of alcohol is denatured, creating a bitter taste.
  • Ethanol can appears on the ingredients listing as either SD Alcohol or Alcohol Denat.
  • Ethanol evapourates quickly which is one of the reasons it is used in hairsprays, so the fixative can attach to their hair without the hair getting wet.
  • Ethanol is made from sugars
  • Ethanol is available certified organic and is commonly used in certified organic cosmetic products
  • Ethanol increases the penetration ability of other skin care ingredients.
  • If used to chronically to remove sebum from oily skin types, it’s a negative ingredient, drying out the skin. This would be the case for high % ethanol products such as stripping toners.
  • If used to enhance product penetration of L-ascorbic acid or vitamin C, which can translate to more collagen production, then this is a positive.
  • Ethanol is not a negative ingredient, only if used inappropriately. Clients with a dry skin type, if they had a product containing Ethanol, would need to make sure they are moisturising their skin am and pm to counter balance any possibility of skin dryness from the Ethanol.
coconut oil 2) Fatty Alcohol - commonly known as cetyl Alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, stearyl or behenyl alcohol, lauryl Alcohol, Oleyl alcohol
  • These alcohols are typically derived from coconut or palm oil and are solids at room temperature.
  • They must be melted for use in cosmetic formulations.
  • They are used in skin care to typically thicken a formulation, emulsify oils into water or condition the skin and hair and thickeners.
  • Fatty alcohols are minimally processed chemicals derived from sustainable plants, and are allowed in natural personal care standards.
  • They are non drying and non irritating
  • Generally used as emulsifiers, emollients, thickeners and carrying agents for other ingredients.
So is Alcohol in Skin Care bad for us?
  • Fatty Alcohols are not drying on the skin, they are actually nourishing and conditioning
  • Ethyl Alcohol in skin care is generally used as a preservative or solvent.
  • Properly formulated cosmetics use both ethanol and fatty alcohols to produce effective and beautiful products, and will not dry out or damage hair or skin with typical usage.
Have a question about this topic? Or have a totally different question that you would like me to answer? Please email me here: sarah@skinmatrix.com.au Want advice with your Skin Care? Not sure which products are best for you? Complete our Matrix Program, an online skin care consultation for professional advice. Happy Skin Days, Sarah Wilkinson References: http://www.zaega.com/beauty-myth-alcohol-dries-out-and-damages-your-hair-and-your-skin.html http://www.futurederm.com/2012/04/19/is-ethanol-in-skin-care-products-safe/ http://www.paulaschoice.com/cosmetic-ingredient-dictionary/definition/fatty-alcohol http://thenakedchemist.com/fatty-acids-alcohols-and-esthers/