Alcohol in skincare – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

March 13, 2016 0 Comments


Alcohol is one of the most misunderstood ingredients in skincare. So much so that you nearly hear it screaming like a moody 16 old girl ‘You just don’t get me!!!!!’.

In this case they’re right. Many of us don’t get them or understand them.

In the world of chemistry the word alcohol is used to describe ( excuse the chemistry-ese… we’ll be quick!) an organic compound in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom, which in turn is bound to other hydrogen and/or carbon atoms.

We do apologise for that as it hurt our brains as well. And that’s just not cool on Sunday. All we’re trying to say is that there are many types of alcohol – not just the good stuff in your Long Island Iced Tea.

The bad alcohol in skincare

Alcohols like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, alcohol denat, methanol and Benzyl Alcohol are used to make creams feel lighter, help other ingredients to penetrate your skin,  and as a preservative.

On the surface that all sounds OK BUT there is a downside.

These alcohols can cause dryness, irritation and breakouts. So we’re firm believers that they don’t have a place in skincare.

Bad alcohols in skincare deteriorate your skin’s protective barrier which means your skin is no longer effective at keeping moisture in. It also stimulates oil production which could lead to breakouts if your skin makes too much oil.

The good alcohol in skincare

No, it’s not a 2 for 1 Happy Hour In the realms of alcohol, fat is your friend. Fatty alcohols are derived from vegetables and look completely different to those “bad” alcohols.

These good, fatty alcohols are usually solid, pearly white wax pieces and are used to help emulsify cosmetics (i.e. they help hold the product together so the oil and water don’t separate).

They’re not drying or irritating to your skin at all. In fact, they have the opposite effect. They act as emollients which protect your skin and help it to keep moisture in.

Cetearyl, Stearyl, Cetyl and Behenyl alcohol are the most common so if you find them in an ingredient list you have nothing to worry about. They get the Happy tick of approval

The ugly alcohol

OK you got us – there’s no ugly alcohol in skincare.

The ugly alcohol is that one last Mojito you shouldn’t have had. You know the one, it was a good idea at the time but at 9am the next morning it doesn’t feel like a good idea anymore.

Hope you gave the ugly alcohol a miss last night!

The post Alcohol in skincare – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly appeared first on Happy Skincare.


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