There are a lot of misconceptions about alcohol in skincare, mostly about it being bad for the skin. However, it’s not a black and white issue and there are nuances depending on the type of alcohol, its function and concentration in a formula. Here’s the nitty gritty on alcohol.
Alcohols are classified into three different types: Simple, Fatty and Aromatic/Other.
Simple alcohols get a bad rap for causing dryness and irritation when used alone. However, when used at the right concentration with the right blend of ingredients, these alcohols typically don’t affect the skin negatively and may actually aid in ingredient delivery. Below is a list of products we use these alcohols in and the purpose they serve:
- Defense Refresh Setting Mist: used as a carrier for the sunscreen actives. Evaporates quickly.
- Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil: used as the solvent for the sunscreen actives.
- Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C: allows the formula to be applied to wet skin.
Examples of simple alcohols: Denatured Alcohol (Alcohol Denat.), Ethanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol, and Methanol.
Fatty alcohols act as emollients and help the skin retain moisture. We use them in the following products: City Sunscreen Serum, Everyday Sunscreen, Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil, Forever Young Body Butter, Forever Young Hand Cream, Shine On Lip Screen, Super Power Sunscreen Mousse, 100% Mineral Sunscreen Mist, Healthy Glow Sunless Tan, Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream, Sunnyscreen 100% Mineral Lotion, Play 100% Mineral Lotion, Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion and Glow Stick.
Examples of fatty alcohols: Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, and Lauryl Alcohol
Aromatic/Other alcohols are natural components of some essential oils and natural fragrance blends or antimicrobials. They are used in Superscreen as a preservative.
Examples of aromatic and other alcohols: Benzyl Alcohol and Phenetyl Alcohol.