Alcohol in Cosmetic Products

Alcohol in Cosmetic Products

Posted By Edge
Hey there! Are you curious about the use of alcohol in cosmetic products? You're not alone! Alcohol is a common ingredient in many beauty products, but it can be a bit confusing to understand why it's used and whether it's good or bad for your skin. The truth is, alcohol can have both pros and cons when it comes to cosmetics. So, it's important to understand the different types and how they affect your skin. Let's take a closer look at what alcohol does, why it's used, and how it can affect us. So, grab a seat, and let's dive in!

Alcohol is used in cosmetic products for a variety of reasons. It has high volatility, which allows it to evaporate quickly after application, and it has drying and antimicrobial properties that make it useful in facial toners and other skin care products. It can also facilitate the penetration of active ingredients into the superficial layers of the skin and promote the deposition of ingredients on the skin or hair.

Alcohol can have both benefits and drawbacks when it comes to cosmetics. While it can help cleanse the skin, reduce inflammation, and prevent breakouts, it can also be drying, irritating, and damaging to the skin's natural barrier.

The Pros of Alcohol in Cosmetics

Lightweight Texture

Alcohol can make cosmetics feel lighter and more airy, which makes them ideal for those with oily or combination skin.
Penetrates the Skin

Alcohol helps penetrate deeper into your pores than water does, which means it can clean out dirt and oil that might otherwise be difficult to remove from your face or body.

Dissolves Oil

Because alcohol dissolves oils, it's also great at removing makeup--even waterproof mascara!
Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory

Alcohol can help soothe inflamed or irritated skin, making it a great ingredient in products designed to combat acne or other skin conditions.

Helps Prevent Breakouts

Alcohol can help kill bacteria on the skin's surface, which can reduce the likelihood of developing pimples or other blemishes.
Reduces Wrinkles

Alcohol can help tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The Cons of Alcohol in Cosmetics


Alcohol is a drying agent, which means it can cause your skin to feel tight and uncomfortable. This can be especially problematic for those with sensitive or dry skin, who may already have difficulty maintaining moisture levels in their skin.

Alcohol also has a tendency to irritate the skin's surface due to its ability to draw out oils from within the skin. This can lead to redness and inflammation around areas where you apply your cosmetics products or lotions containing alcohol--especially if they're applied directly onto broken capillaries or other damaged tissues on your face.

Damages the Skin's Natural Barrier

Overuse of alcohol-based products can damage the skin's natural barrier, which can lead to increased sensitivity and dryness over time.
Can Cause an Allergic Reaction

Some people may be allergic to the specific type of alcohol used in a particular cosmetic product, which can lead to redness, itching, or other symptoms.

Different Types of Alcohol in Skincare

One of the largest problems with categorizing alcohol used in skincare as either “good” or “bad” is that the term “alcohol” is a generalization in itself. There are three primary types of alcohol that you might find in the ingredient lists of various topical products.

These are:
1. Simple alcohols. Simple alcohols include substances such as methanol, ethanol, propanol, and denatured alcohol and are primarily used in skin care for their antibacterial properties. They may also be added to act as solvents for other ingredients in the formula. Although these alcohols can dry out the skin if applied alone or in large enough concentrations, when combined with the right ingredients in the proper ratios, these alcohols shouldn’t negatively affect the skin and may aid in ingredient delivery, according to cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski

Examples: ethanol, propanol - Used in skincare for their antibacterial properties.

2. Fatty alcohols. Some of the most common examples of fatty alcohols used in skincare products include cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, and isostearyl alcohol. Unlike simple alcohols, fatty alcohols have emollient and occlusive characteristics. These ingredients can actually help to keep the skin hydrated, making them beneficial in many types of topical products.

Examples: cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol - Can help to keep the skin hydrated.

3. Aromatic alcohols. Skincare products that contain fragrances may utilize aromatic alcohols such as benzyl alcohol or components of essential oil concentrations. These ingredients may cause skin irritation or dryness, especially for those with sensitive skin. To avoid this type of alcohol, choose fragrance-free products.

Example: benzyl alcohol - Used in skincare products that contain fragrances and may cause skin irritation or dryness especially in sensitive skin.

In labeling, the term "alcohol," used by itself, refers to ethyl alcohol. Products labeled as "Alcohol-free" may contain other kinds of alcohol, specifically fatty alcohols like cetearyl or lanolin, and their effects on the skin are quite different. Isopropyl alcohol, which some consumers may think of as drying the skin, is rarely used in cosmetics.

"Good" vs. "Bad" Alcohol
As previously mentioned, there are various kinds of alcohol. Ethanol is categorized as a bad alcohol because it damages and dries the skin. Oftentimes, denatured alcohol is mixed with phthalates. This is problematic because high concentrations may lead to infertility and diabetes.

Fatty alcohol is categorized as a "good" alcohol and is obtained from plant fatty acids. They are non-toxic, well tolerated by the skin and biodegradable. This type of alcohol has conditioning and moisturizing properties while relieving any irritations. An example would be fatty alcohol derived from coconuts. These substances are used in the natural cosmetics industry as emollients or thickeners. The only disadvantage is that they cannot be mixed with water. Here are a few that fall into this category: Behenyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Lanolin Alcohol and Stearyl Alcohol.

Is Alcohol Harmful For Our Skin
Large doses of ethanol cause the sebaceous layer of the skin to be destroyed. It possesses hygroscopic qualities, which causes the skin to lose moisture and become dry and cracked. The result is lessened when combined with water.

In products with an alcohol level of 5% or less, there is no risk of skin drying out because the alcohol evaporates completely as the product is being applied to the skin. It develops its anti-microbial preservation characteristics within the formulation. In contrast, utilizing chemical preservatives harms skin more since parabens stick to the skin and are eventually absorbed by the body.

In summary, when it comes to choosing the right skincare products for you, it’s essential to first check product labels. Identifying the type and concentration of alcohol used is the first step. If alcohol is listed as the second ingredient, the product has a higher alcohol concentration and shouldn't be used by people with sensitive skin.



New Subscribers get 10% Off

*Offer only for new subscribers and select brands only.
No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

by Eternal Skin Care

1700 7th Avenue, Unit 2100
Seattle, WA 98101
United States
Copyrights 1999-2024

Now Shopping

US Flag
Canadian Flag

Payment Methods

payment methods


This site is protected by VikingCloud's Trusted Commerce program Click for the BBB Business Review of this Day Spas in North Vancouver BC
Eternal Logo

Eternal Skin Care ®
1700 7th Avenue, Unit 2100
Seattle, WA 98101
United States
Copyrights 1999-2024

Welcome Back

Account Home
Previous Orders
Order Status
My Loves
Sign Out

Don't Have An Account?

Start Here if you are new to our website.

Don't remember your password, please enter your email and we'll send you a link to reset your password.
small logo
SAVE 10%
on your first order*
Subscribe and receive promotional offers and stay up to date with new trends in beauty and well being.
*Offer only for new subscribers, excludes certain brands.
One-time promo code will be sent via email.
By entering your email, you agree to receive newsletters from eSkinStore.




Contact us
Live chat
Added To Cart
We use cookies to improve your browsing experience and help us improve By using our site, you agree to use of cookies as described in our cookie policy