Alcohol in cosmetics: pros and cons

WITHToday, when choosing a skin care product, we pay attention not only to the brand name or beautiful packaging, but also to the composition. And more often than not, the presence of alcohol in the list of ingredients is very alarming, because we are used to thinking that alcohol dries and injures the skin. Then why does it take almost the first place in the list of active ingredients on almost every jar?

BeautyHack figured out what alcohol is needed for in cosmetics, and also found out what its pros and cons.

There are three types of alcohols that are used for cosmetic purposes.

Simple alcohols: methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and denatured alcohol.

Simple alcohols are obtained by fermenting sugar, starches and other carbohydrates, and in consistency such alcohols resemble water.

In the composition of cosmetics, simple alcohols act as a solvent, since they help the ingredients mix to a uniform consistency, a preservative (the antiseptic properties of alcohols extend the shelf life of cosmetics), as well as an active ingredient for the care of oily skin – alcohol helps to quickly tighten pores and reduce oily sheen skin.

But it is the simple alcohols that boast the longest list of cons:

Simple alcohols disrupt the protective functions of the skin, therefore, using cosmetics with such alcohols in the composition, you may notice that over time, the product begins to dry and irritate the skin. This is due to the fact that simple alcohols practically erase the natural acidic membrane of the skin, thereby dehydrating the cells.

The use of cosmetics with simple alcohols in the composition can cause dermatitis and allergies – alcohol erases the protective lipid layer, as a result of which, weakened skin is more susceptible to the influence of negative environmental factors and pollution.

After using products with simple alcohols in the composition, you may also notice a deterioration in the condition of the skin and an increase in the number of rashes – products containing alcohol do not solve the problem of acne, as we used to think, but, on the contrary, cause irritation and dryness. Protecting itself, the skin produces even more sebum, increasing the appearance of inflammation. (How to care for oily skin correctly, the cosmetologist tells here).

Aromatic alcohols: benzyl and cinnamyl alcohols.

These alcohols are similar in their functions to simple ones, but they have a pleasant natural aroma. In the composition of cosmetics, they are used as a preservative or a component of perfumery fragrances.

Benzyl alcohol can be found in some fruits such as apricots, cranberries, and tea. The high benzyl alcohol content imparts a pleasant floral scent to cosmetics, but can also cause severe skin irritation. In small amounts, this alcohol has almost no effect on the skin.

Cinnamyl alcohol, on the other hand, is a volatile fragrance that can dry out your skin a lot.

Fatty alcohols: behenyl alcohol, caprylic alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, decyl alcohol, lauryl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, isuostearyl alcohol, oleyl alcohol.

Fatty alcohols are a special class of substances that, in terms of their chemical properties, belong to alcohols, but differ greatly in their effect on the skin from simple alcohols. They have a thick, waxy and sometimes even hard texture, due to which they have emollient properties and prevent the evaporation of moisture from the surface of the skin.

Fatty alcohols have natural moisturizing properties, so they are used in cosmetics to make the skin velvety and smooth. (To find out what you are doing wrong in skin care, see our test). Also, fatty alcohols often act as a thickener, which is why they can be found in nutritious winter skin care products.

If you meet the word Alcohol in the composition of the product, first of all, you need to determine which type of alcohol it belongs to. Simple alcohols, especially ethanol, methanol and isopropyl alcohols, should beware of skin care products. But aromatic benzyl alcohol and, of course, fatty alcohols should not be afraid.

Text: Anya Sherstneva