You may have heard that alcohol in skincare is horrible and should be avoided at all costs. Alcohol has been deemed the villain of skincare for many years with many skincare brands claiming to be alcohol free to please the masses. Ready for the plot twist of the decade? Not all alcohol in skincare products is bad! There are certain alcohols that can actually be pretty beneficial for your skin and skincare products. So the question is, should you actually avoid alcohol in your skincare routine?
What is Alcohol?
Okay, we’re going to get a little scientific but bare with us 👩🔬. An alcohol is defined as a type of organic compound that is made of at least a hydroxyl functional group (an oxygen atom and hydrogen atom) and bound to a carbon atom. Bind those hydrogen and carbon atoms to other hydrogen and carbons and you’ve got a bunch of different kinds of alcohols. There are three main types of alcohols with each type having their own different types of characteristics.
Why is There Alcohol in Skincare?
There are a couple of reasons alcohol is used in skincare products. Alcohol can be used for its antibacterial properties to keep bacteria out of products. It can be used to decrease the sebum (the natural oils your skin makes) in the skin. This could be great for those that have oily skin and produce too much sebum for their liking. Alcohol can also be used to help dissolve ingredients deeply into the skin so you can see greater benefits from your products.
Types of Alcohol in Skincare
There are two types of alcohol you can find in skincare products: fatty alcohol and drying alcohol. Fatty alcohols are actually extremely beneficial for your skin! These alcohols, derived from amino acids found in plants and natural waxes, can help moisturize, soften, and soothe the skin. Fatty alcohols can also work to transport ingredients deeper into the skin and prevent moisture loss. These types of alcohols can help restore the skin’s natural barrier and fight against acne causing bacteria and allergens that may cause irritation. Common fatty alcohols you may find in your skincare products include cetearyl (which can be found in Koope products), cetyl and isostearyl alcohol.
Drying alcohol, also known as simple alcohol, does exactly what you think: dries out the skin. Drying alcohols including isopropyl, ethanol or SD alcohols can strip the skin of its natural oils and damage the skin barrier. This can lead to dehydration that can cause increased wrinkles and fine lines. That dehydration can also cause sebaceous glands to increase oil production leaving your skin oilier. These alcohols can also weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself and lead to increased breakouts. Drying alcohols can also be too harsh for the skin and cause irritation, inflammation and redness. All around, drying alcohols are simply not the vibe.
Should You Avoid It?
The short answer: yes and no. Paying attention to what type of alcohols in your products is key. Fatty alcohols can be great for your skin and helpful ingredients in your products to keep your skin radiant and stabilize active ingredients. Here are a list of fatty alcohols that can be great for skin:
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Stearyl Alcohol
- Cetearyl Alcohol
- Isostearyl Alcohol
- Myristyl Alcohol
- Lauryl Alcohol
- Oleyl Alcohol
- Lanolin Alcohol (can be irritating though)
Drying alcohols, like denatured alcohol (which are nowhere to be found in Koope products btw 😉), can cause a slew of problems for the skin and aren’t worth the headache. Here are a list of drying alcohols that you may want to steer clear of in your skincare routine:
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Denatured Alcohol
- SD Alcohol
- Benzyl Alcohol
All in all, remember to consult your dermatologist and follow their recommendations on what ingredients you should and shouldn’t use in your routine to ensure your skin’s overall health and happiness.