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 .