Alcohol in Skincare

Should alcohol in skincare products be avoided? Why has it become a mainstream ingredient in everyday products like makeup removers, toners and much more?

We all know and understand that alcohol, in our bodies, dehydrates and makes the skin puffy and dry and overall very unhealthy looking. So why do we accept it in our skin care regime?

Where it is Found and Why

Alcohol can be found in many products like body wash, exfoliators, eye creams and face serums. Alcohol strips away natural oils that our body produces, also called sebum. Sebum is that common build-up of oil around out T-zone around midday. If you are someone who would call your skin oily, this may be an everyday occurrence for you.

What alcohol can do is strip away that oil and give us a shine-free look for the day. To many oily skin types, this sounds like a great option because it feels weightless and seems simple. But the shocking truth is that using alcohol to take away that natural and necessary oil is a bad idea. It is needed for our skin’s health and protection. Alcohol is a quick fix that should be avoided at all costs.

Not only that, but it is also very damaging. It breaks the skin’s natural protection barrier and allows for dirt and toxins to enter the skin. It can cause inflammation, enlarged pores and it can cause acne. These are both immediate and long-lasting damages to the skin that are difficult to un-do.

Types of alcohol in Products

Ethanol is the kind to be avoided. It can actually kill skin cells. What we want is to revitalise skin cells, not kill them. Ethanol will often be listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat, or isopropyl alcohol. It can also be found in ingredients listed as benzyl alcohol.

Fatty alcohols, however, have a completely different chemical make-up. These fatty alcohols are NOT irritating to the skin.These will usually be found in waxy substances and can be listed as the following examples: cetyl, stearyl, or cetearyl alcohol. All of these are good ingredients for dry skin, and in small amounts fine for any skin type. It’s important to differentiate these beneficial forms of alcohol from the problematic types of alcohol as mentioned above.

Many products nowadays have “alcohol-free” written on the packaging to let consumers know that there is no alcohol in the ingredients. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you do not make yourself aware of these terms for alcohol you could still be unknowingly damaging your skin. The best way to protect yourself is by reading the ingredients label.

What Your Skin Does Need

Your skin needs moisture. Essentially, that is the opposite of alcohol.

The best time to moisturise is in the shower or directly after a shower when your skin is still damp. Alcohol-free products should be applied daily to keep skin soft and smooth. It should feel gentle on the skin and leave you feeling rejuvenated and radiant. A beauty product should never seem streaky, squeaky or too oily. It should not leave you looking matte.

Our skin is the largest organ of our body. It is affected by many factors such as sunlight, wind, food, health and the environment. There are many factors we cannot change in regards to how they affect our skin and there are some factors that we do have control over. We have control over what we apply topically to our skin.

Alcohol – The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there are the alcohols that are very damaging such as ethanol and there are the fatty alcohols which are okay. Sticking to factually-founded products and scientifically backed products are a safer bet. In the end, checking labels and arming your skincare regime with personal research and knowledge is the safest way to getting healthy, glowing looking skin.

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