Denatured alcohol

Most alcohols that you find on the ingredients list of your lotion, shampoo, mouth wash or facial cleanser are similar to pure alcohol, except they have been “denatured” so that they cannot be safely consumed. These “denaturing” additives are often liquid man-made petroleum derivatives. Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is one of these denatured alcohols. Other types include ethanol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol and SD alcohol.

It is this type of alcohol that has a drying effect on your skin. They are volatile alcohols that give products a quick-drying finish and they immediately degrease skin, making them appealing for those with oily skin. For others the immediate effect is one of irritated skin.

Long term use of products which main ingredient (one of the first six on the list) is this kind of alcohol leads to dryness, erosion of the surface of the skin, disruption of the barrier function of the skin and damage to the skin. It can also make acne worse.

Fatty alcohols

On the other hand there are fatty alcohols that can be beneficial for your skin. These include cetyl, stearyl and cetearyl alcohol. Those with sensitive skin though, may be better off avoiding these as well, as they can cause irritation.

I wouldn´t be too worried about this ingredient, as long as it is not one of the main ingredients (first six on the list) and as long as you don´t have a sensitive skin. Having said that, I do try to avoid products containing alcohol, because there are so many products with it that are gentle to your skin.


Paula´s Choice

Annemarie Gianni