What does alcohol-free mean?

May 25, 2009 at 12:56 pm 7 comments

alcohol free skincare products

Whenever we go beauty shopping, we see lots of products labelled as alcohol-free. But when we take a look at the ingredient list, we notice that these products do contain alcohols. But is alcohol really bad for the skin? And what does alcohol-free really mean?

Is alcohol bad for skin?
Many of us opt for alcohol-free products because they are said to be gentler on the skin. However, there are lots of different types of alcohol and they all have different effects on the skin. Some alcohols can be drying and cause irritations, but others actually have some benefits. They are called fatty acids (like cetyl alcohol or stearyl alcohol) and are used as emollients, emulsifiers and thickeners in cosmetics and skincare products.

Alcohols to be concerned about
The alcohols that should be avoided in skincare products are Denatured Alcohol, Ethyl Alcohol, Ethanol, Methanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol and SD Alcohol. These ingredients absorb water from the skin and can therefore be very drying. In addition, they dissolve the skin’s natural moisturizers and pH balance and can cause irritations and free radical damage.

So, what does alcohol-free mean?
Companies can label a product as alcohol-free if it doesn’t contain ethyl alcohol (aka SD alcohol or alcohol denat), Methyl Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol, which all have negative effects on skin. But the same product can contain fatty alcohols, which can provide benefits to the skin .

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  • 1. Nikki  |  May 25, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    ahh now I got it :) thanks

  • 2. my_makeup_mania  |  May 25, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    alcohol just good for my oily skin :)

  • 3. fabulessbeauty  |  May 26, 2009 at 2:34 am

    I prefer my products to be alcohol free. My skin tends to be on the dry side.

  • 4. Cyndi  |  May 26, 2009 at 3:27 am

    Very informative post! Thank you very much for this :)

  • 5. prettybeautiful  |  May 26, 2009 at 5:12 am

    eeep! all the while i tot alcohol was only bad! :D informative indeed.

  • 6. beautifulwithbrains  |  May 26, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Nikki and Cyndi: you’re both very welcome :)

    My Makeup Mania: some alcohols can help degrease oily skin but be careful not to ovedo it as that could dy out your face too much.

    Fabulessbeauty: me too. Definitely avoid SD Alcohol, Alcohol, or Alcohol Denat if you have dry skin or they’ll dry it out even more.

    prettybeautiful: that’s one of the biggst misconcetions about alcohol. But some of tehm are actually beneficial and there is no need to avoid them.

  • 7. Changes to the skin care « Transformation zone  |  June 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    […] came across an article about alcohol content in toners which can be found here which i think is definately worth a read. I’ll try to remember this as i go into Boots to get […]


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