Is Alcohol In Skin Care Products Bad?

I must confess that I don’t always look at the ingredients list of my skin care products. That’s why I often only find out afterwards that ingredients have been added to my products that my skin can’t stand, such as alcohol.

My skin dries out enormously from alcohol and makes it irritate a lot. I also found out when I used this Aloe Vera product

Since then I try to pay more attention to buy products that don’t contain alcohol. But why do skin care products contain alcohol? And is it better to avoid this ingredient?

What is alcohol?

When I think of alcohol, I always immediately think of the drinkable form and not as a substance. But there is a difference between the drinkable fork and the non drinkable form.

There are several types of alcohol. And all these forms have a name that resembles in alcohol or ends in -ol. The different types of alcohol differ in characteristics and therefore in effect.

Alcohol is a common ingredient in skin care. Almost every ingredient list contains some form of alcohol. Yet it has a negative image: it dries out your skin and irritates it.

Why do skin care products contain alcohol?

Photo: Khanisorn Chaokl’s Images

Despite having a bad image, alcohol is added to skin care products for various reasons:

  • In high concentrations it is used to kill bacteria. It’s therefore often found in products for impure skin.
  • It prevents foaming, dilutes the product and has a degreasing effect.
  • It gives a refreshing and clean feeling and is therefore often found in toners.
  • It’s used as a solvent in, for example perfumes. Substances that normally don’t mix with each other can be mixed thanks to the alcohol.

Bad good types of alcohol in skin care products

Photo: Liia Galimzianova via Getty Images

The alcohol intended for drinking is also used in skin care products. To prevent people from drinking their skin care, a substance is added to the alcohol so it’s no longer consumable.

If this form of alcohol is high in the ingredient list, it’s better to avoid the product. They could irritate your skin. Look for names like:

  • Alcohol denat/ denatured alcohol
  • SD alcohol
  • Ethanol
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol

You also want to avoid wool alcohols. Because one in five people has a contact allergy to this alcohol.

The lower the alcohol is on the ingredient list, the less likely it will irritate your skin.

Why should you avoid the bad alcohol types?

Alcohol evaporates quickly, which dries out your skin. It also dissolves the natural oils in the surface of your skin. This causes moisture to evaporate and irritants can damage your skin.

Actually it breaks down the natural barrier function of your skin. This allows substances to penetrate deeply into your skin. Sometimes that is also the intention, but that also applies to substances that you prefer not to go deep into your skin.

Alcohol also ensures that the precursors of vitamin A (such as beta-carotene and retinol) can’t be further converted into vitamin A acid. Vitamin A acid is a skin rejuvenator. And your skin will then have a shortage of this. This gives you a faster skin aging.

Good types of alcohol in skin care products

There are also good types of alcohol, such as fatty alcohols and panthenol. They ensure that moisture is retained in the skin, making them suitable for dry skin.

Fatty alcohols include:

  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Behenyl alcohol

So always look on the ingredient list of the skin care contains bad alcohol types on the top of the ingredient list. The lower these alcohol types are in the list, the better. And always look for products that contain good alcohol types.

Front photo: RyanKing999

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