Why is alcohol even needed in skin care?
Alcohol is mainly used to deliver other ingredients deep into the skin, so it helps ingredients like vitamin C, Retinols etc. get to those deeper layers they wouldn’t be able to penetrate if alcohol was not used. Of course, this has a big downside. For this to happen the barrier of the skin has to be broken and that’s where alcohol comes into play, it breaks the skin barrier and allows other ingredients to go deeper.
Why is the skin barrier so important?
If we didn’t have a skin barrier which is the first layer of our skin, every toxin or bacteria out there will be able to penetrate our body and probably kill us, and the water inside our body would be able to just evaporate and leave us dehydrated. If our skin barrier is damaged chances are we’ll struggle with infections and awful acne.
- Denatured alcohol or Ethanol.
If you see those stay away from this product especially if it’s listed high on the ingredients list. Really harsh and can dry out your skin.
- Isopropyl alcohol
Again terrible for the skin barrier, very harsh and damaging. This is the main ingredient for rubbing-alcohol, which indicates that it can’t be good for your skin.
- Cetyl alcohol
We got to some of the good kinds of alcohol here. It’s a fatty alcohol and not like the low molecular weight ones mentioned above it acts as a product thickener and won’t damage your skin, but again it shouldn’t be one of the main ingredients.
- Propylene glycol
This one is good too. It acts as a humectant, it attracts water into your skin, that’s always great.
- Stearyl alcohol
Another fatty alcohol that won’t damage your skin don’t be afraid of it if you see it on the ingredients list. It actually keeps the moisture in the skin
- Cetearyl alcohol
The last fatty alcohol I will mention here, It’s not damaging it gives your skin a soft feel which we all like.
Stay away from the ones in red, I know people with oily skin sometimes like the immediate mattifying results of the first alcohols, but in the long run, you’re just triggering your skin to produce more oil and damaging the skin barrier, which can cause breakouts. Can cause premature ageing too.
The products that are likely to contain high concentrations of low molecular weight alcohols are:
- A lot of over the counter acne treatments
- Oily skin targeted products
When you go to buy a product of this sort just double check if they have SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, alcohol denat or isopropyl alcohol. If it’s high on the list, go find a better product.
The only products that actually are OK to have a high concentration of the alcohols mentioned are spot treatments, those alcohols can actually be beneficial there because they will dry out the pimple fast and not damage the healthy skin.