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THE ALCOHOL DEBATE

THE ALCOHOL DEBATE

Alcohol, is a commonly used ingredient in the cosmetic industry.

 

It’s mainly used in fragrances for its ability to blend and disperse the scent and evaporates quickly once it contacts the skin.

 

Alcohol also has preserving qualities and is used in particular in natural and organic skincare formulations, where you might expect to find a higher concentration up to 10%. It can be derived synthetically or naturally, through the fermentation of sugar- whereby it is obtained by chemical reaction of starch in the presence of yeast, at the temperature below 37 ° C. Alcohol is commonly found in men’s grooming products where the evaporation from the skin’s surface creates a pleasant sensation of freshness and relief.

 

No matter the origin of it and its dosage, alcohol can be an irritant and can dry the skin. How do we spot it in the ingredient list? Usually it appears as “Alcohol” but we might see it as “Alcohol denat”, “ethanol” and “ethyl alcohol”.

 

Notably there are other natural ingredients that contain the word “alcohol” but despite their name are a completely different substance with distinct set of properties.

 

Here are some of the the different guises you will see alcohol appear:

 

  • Benzyl alcohol: can be a solvent, preservative or fragrance ingredient. It is found in different essential oils.
  • Cetearyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and is derived from palm kernel and/or coconut oil
  • Behenyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and comes from rapeseed oil.
  • Myristyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and comes from palm kernel and/or coconut oil
  • Cetostearyl alcohol: a synthetic emulsifier. You might read it in traditional barrier creams under the name: cetomacrogol 1000
  • Cetylstearyl alcohol: is a synthetic emulsifier. You might read it in traditional barrier creams under the name: cetomacrogol emulsifying wax
  • Cetyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and comes from palm kernel and/or coconut oil
  • Stearyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions (thickener)and comes from palm kernel and/or coconut oil

 

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