How bad is alcohol in skincare?
At BEAUTSY we are all about natural skincare. With us no - or at least as little as possible - parabens, sulphates and perfumes. But what about alcohol in skincare?
Good & bad
In short, there are good and bad alcohols. The good alcohols are called fatty alcohols and protect the skin from drying out. Bad alcohols are often added to skincare because it helps to improve the texture of the product. It makes a cream or cleanser feel light. And it allows ingredients to be better absorbed by the skin. They do this by stripping the skin of its natural fatty layer. Drawback? It can dry out and irritate your skin. And that's bad news. You can recognise bad alcohols on the ingredients list as alcohol denat., SD alcohol, ethanol, methanol, ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.
How does bad alcohol affect your skin?
Alcohol is dehydrating. This is because alcohol evaporates superfast. But there is more to it than that: bad types of alcohol dissolve the skin's own fats - and these are precisely what you need for healthy, smooth and beautiful skin. Without the skin's own lipids, the skin barrier becomes thinner, allowing moisture to escape more easily and quickly dehydrating the skin. A weakened skin barrier allows bad substances from skincare to penetrate deeper into your skin, which is not what you want with substances that do nothing for your skin and only damage it.
Look for the good types
So the bad alcohols cause dehydration while the fatty alcohols retain moisture in the skin. A world of difference! A good skincare product should preferably contain no bad alcohol at all. Why should you? You should rather choose fatty alcohols. You can recognise them by the names benhyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. Small side note: if your favourite product contains a bad type of alcohol but it is dangling at the bottom of the ingredients list, there is no problem. The dosage of the bad alcohol is then negligible. You probably won't even notice it. Just look at Holi (Water) Pearl and Rose Hyaluronic Toner by Agent Nateur, one of our favourites. Benzyl alcohol is at the very bottom of the list of ingredients. No worries! Is the bad alcohol in the middle or at the top? If so, don't use it.