what function do alcohols perform in cosmetics – explains the expert

Alcohols are an important ingredient in skin care products. At the same time, there are still many prejudices regarding this component in cosmetics. Intuitively, many consider it harmful or even dangerous for the skin. It is not always clear to consumers when a tonic labeled alcohol is absolutely safe for the skin, and when it is worth thinking twice before using the product. Biggest Concern: Alcohol dries and irritates the skin. Together with Natalya Rodina, a cosmetologist at the White Garden Health and Beauty Center, we understand the issue.

Natalia Rodina

Natalia Rodina

dermatocosmetologist at the “White Garden” beauty center

To begin with, it is important to understand that three types of alcohols can be used in cosmetics: simple, fatty and aromatic. The safest and most understandable are fatty alcohols, which are used to stabilize formulas; they can be contained not only in cosmetics, but also in food. On the label you can see the names of Lauryl Alcohol, Caprylic Alcohol, stearyl alcohol and many other alcohols. They do not dry out the skin and it is largely thanks to them that your care products have the consistency to which you are accustomed. They can also soften the skin and help retain moisture in it.

Aromatic alcohols are natural, they are obtained from organic raw materials (apricots and citrus fruits). Such alcohols serve as preservatives and are harmless in the amount found in cosmetics.

The most controversial category is simple alcohols. In the compositions of the funds, they are designated as alcohol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, alcohol denat, methanol. “And here the concentration of the substance in the composition plays a decisive role,” explains Natalya Rodina. – 96% alcohol is an antiseptic that has an antibacterial effect. But even surgeons use 70% alcohol to treat the skin of their hands. If the concentration of alcohol is 50%, it will no longer degrease and dry the skin, and is not such a strong antiseptic. “

For comparison, in cosmetics, alcohol is used at a concentration of no more than 10% (and often much less) – and in most cases it is safe for the skin.

Natalia gives an example: “Manufacturers of natural cosmetics do not want to use chemical preservatives, but it is impossible to create cosmetics without preservatives, this is how the bacterial flora will develop. Therefore, 10% alcohol is added (as a rule) as a natural and harmless preservative (it has a bactericidal effect to suppress the growth of bacterial colonies). As a preservative, alcohol made from natural products (such as wheat) is harmless. But isopropyl and propyl alcohols are created from petroleum products – these are chemicals. They are harmful and are best avoided. “

10% alcohol does not dry, moreover, upon contact with the skin (for example, when we use a toner) it evaporates from the surface immediately, is not absorbed, does not penetrate inside, without harming it. The more “water” in the product (gels, lotions, tonics, liquid emulsions), the greater the risk of developing bacterial colonies and the more we need to introduce preservatives. In addition, in such products, alcohol also performs a disinfecting function.

Even if the product has an alcoholic perfume or alcohol is declared in the first five components, Natalia also advises against panicking. The formula matters: if the product was made in good faith, then there will be no problems: “Unfortunately, manufacturers can simply write alcohol, and we will not know what it is: aromatic, fatty, ethyl, isopropyl, it is not clear what percentage and concentration it has.”

In this case, it is more important to focus on the brand and its reputation, as well as on your personal experience with the use of funds. If you have normal skin, then alcohol in the composition will not harm it. If the skin is sensitive, oily, acne-prone, then high concentration of alcohol can be irritating. Hence the opinion that alcohol is dry and unsafe. First of all, listen to how you feel when using the product and avoid high concentrations of alcohol.