THE BEAUTY BUZZ:
What You Need to Know About
The “Other Alcohols” in Your Beauty Products
We wanted to give you a brief rundown of the other type of alcohols found in skincare products. There are three types of alcohols that can be found in skincare products, fatty alcohols, simple alcohols and aromatic alcohols.
Alcohols can be used in skincare for various reason. They can be used as a solvent to dissolve or thin out a mixture, an emulsifier which allows two different ingredients blend together, a buffer that balances the pH, an antiseptic to kill bacteria or as a preservative to minimize bacteria growth or spoilage. Alcohols can also be used as a fragrance fixative or a penetration enhancer in order to improve the delivery of an ingredient to the skin.
Arachidyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, glycol, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, just to name a few, are fatty alcohols. This means they are alcohols which are naturally derived from fats. They are found in nature as waxes and are rich in skin-healthy fatty acids. Fatty alcohols are commonly derived from coconut oil and palm oil. They tend to have a thick, waxy texture and some of them are solid. These types of alcohols are used as thickeners and emollients. They are not drying or damaging to
the skin and can be beneficial to the skin. They actually help moisturize the skin due to their natural fatty acids. They are used to give products a velvety, smooth feel.
Fatty alcohols do not behave and dry the skin like a simple alcohol such as ethanol, propanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol and SD alcohol, and should not be confused with them. Simple alcohols are most commonly used as antiseptic. They can be irritating and tend to dry out the skin. They could also disrupt the skin’s natural barrier, may damage the skin and could even make acne worse.
Aromatic alcohols (or aryl-alcohols) performs similar to simple or regular alcohols. However, they have an aromatic fragrance to them. They can be found as a component of a fragrance or essential oil. They can also function as a preservative. Benzyl alcohol is the most common aromatic alcohol.