WHY IS ALCOHOL USED IN SKINCARE PRODUCTS?
There are different types of alcohol used in skincare products, and there is often confusion because one type of alcohol cannot be compared to another, and the statement "alcohol is bad for the skin" is not necessarily true.
The two types of alcohol used in skincare can be easily described as "harsh" and "gentle." And, as you might have guessed, harsh alcohol is not favoured by your skin and is best avoided.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF ALCOHOL IN SKINCARE?
Gentle or "fatty" alcohol actually has a nurturing effect in skincare because it helps your skin retain moisture better and allows (plant) extracts to be absorbed more effectively. You can recognize this type of alcohol on the ingredient list under these names:
- cetearyl alcohol
- cetyl alcohol
- behenyl alcohol
- myristyl alcohol
- stearyl alcohol
The alcohol used in Witlof products is a combination of gentle alcohol and benzyl alcohol, used for dissolving certain plant extracts. It ensures that nourishing extracts such as vitamins and antioxidants are absorbed deeper into the skin, where they can do their beneficial work.
WHICH ALCOHOLS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Harsh alcohol dissolves the oily protective layer of your skin, causing it to dry out and become sensitive. You can recognize this type of alcohol on the ingredient list under the following names:
- alcohol denat. (denatured alcohol - very drying)
- ethyl alcohol
- SD alcohol
- benzyl alcohol
Benzyl alcohol needs some clarification. This ingredient is often used as a preservative or solvent for plant extracts that are used in natural skincare. These are minimal amounts that are harmless and do not dry out the skin when combined with other ingredients. If it is a product that is rinsed off and the amount is below 0.01%, it does not even need to be listed on the packaging. Therefore, there are products that contain benzyl alcohol but do not list it on the packaging. Witlof Skincare values transparency and therefore provides all ingredients on the packaging, even if it is not necessary.
POSITION ON THE INGREDIENT LIST
You can also assess whether the used (harsh) alcohol has drying effects by looking at its position on the ingredient list. If it is listed at the very bottom, the quantities are so small that it does not have adverse effects. However, please note that this does not apply to hormone-like substances such as parabens, which can have an effect on your body even in small amounts. Therefore, this check does not apply to every type of ingredient.
CAN ALCOHOL IN SKINCARE CAUSE ACNE?
This depends - of course, you may be more personally sensitive to some alcohols than others. The harsh alcohols listed above can damage and irritate your skin, and dry it out an unnatural amount. It is advised that you especially steer clear of cleansers that contain alcohol, and instead opt for gently cleansers, regardless of your skin type, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
DOES ALCOHOL IN SKINCARE AGE YOUR SKIN?
We are all aware of the ageing effects drinking alcohol can have on your skin, but what about applying it? Yes! Applying products containing harsh alcohols onto your skin can damage the skin barrier which can lead to many different reactions, such as overly drying your skin, causing your skin to produce more oils, and even contribute to aged-looking skin.
IS ALCOHOL IN SKINCARE SAFE DURING PREGNANCY?
The National Institute of Health concludes that alcohols common to skincare products are generally safe to be used during pregnancy and do not hold any major risks, regardless if they are harsh or gentle alcohols. That being said, we still advise you to avoid harsher alcohols, just for the sake of your skin!
If you want to learn more about skincare product ingredients, schedule a free online skin consultation with Caroline.