Don’t Spike Your Skincare Cocktail December 15 2013, 0 Comments

Why Do Skin Care Companies Use Alcohol?


If alcohol is so bad for you then why is it in so many popular beauty products? 

1. Germ Warfare

Quite simply, alcohol kills germs. Many cosmetics have a high water content and if they didn't include something to kill the germs, we would be very likely to introduce germs and dirt into our cosmetics every time our fingers touched the bottle and then be spread on our skin with each subsequent use. 

2. Breaks Down Skin's Defenses

Alcohol is also very effective in breaking down your skin's barriers and defenses. It allows the other elements in beauty treatments, like vitamins to penetrate your skin more quickly. Although this is great in the short-term for introducing healthy, nutritious elements found in your products, it also weakens the skin's natural defenses against toxic agents in our environment. 

There are a lot of people who think that the effects of alcohol in cosmetics are temporary because it evaporates so quickly, but that is not always the case and depends quite a bit on how many and how often you use products with harsh alcohols. Since each different product you use contains its own preservative system, it does not mean that the product was designed to be used in conjunction with other products that contain alcohol which leads to overuse very quickly from what we would consider normal daily grooming.

There are of course healthier preservatives that can be used to fight germs than harsh, drying alcohols and parabens and many natural cosmetics companies use those ingredients like Grapefruit Seed Extract and Lincoserve to keep products safe and shelf-stable.


Bad Alcohols

The alcohols that you want to steer clear of are those that are known as short-chain alcohols, which have less than 3 carbons in the molecule’s tail. These types of alcohols tend to evaporate quickly, which can lead to dry skin. 

  • Ethanol
  • SD alcohol
  • SD alcohol 40
  • Alcohol Denat
  • Propanol
  • Propyl Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Alcohol



There Are GOOD Alcohols

We don't mean to imply that all alcohols are bad for your skin. Fatty alcohols are heavier in nature than denatured alcohol and won’t hurt your skin. Cetyl and stearyl alcohols are the good types of alcohol. These can be used to seal in moisture or to make products thicker. Fatty alcohols are not irritating and, in fact, can be beneficial for dry skin. As far as your skin is concerned, fatty alcohols have almost nothing in common with denatured alcohols.


Good Alcohols

These are the alcohols that make products creamy and help dry skin retain moisture. 

  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Behenyl alcohol