Last week on the blog we wrote all about how parabens and silicones affect your skin. To continue our ingredient series, we’re going to be chatting about whether or not alcohols are bad when used in skincare products. Most products that you encounter will have alcohol listed somewhere on the ingredient list, sometimes they’re even the third or fourth ingredient on the list. Is that bad? It sounds bad, right?  Well, it truly depends on what type of alcohol is in your skincare products. There are many different specific kinds of alcohol when it comes to formulations, but for the sake of this conversation we will refer to them as good and bad alcohols. 


The ‘bad’ alcohols are just your standard, run of the mill, simple alcohols – such as denatured alcohol. ‘Bad’ alcohols have a quick drying finish, and are used in a lot of ‘matte’ products, the reason why people may love and gravitate toward these products is because they de-grease, so an oily skin type client may love them due to their mattifying properties. In actuality, if used in large amounts (such as within the first few ingredients of the formula) these products can dry the skin out and weaken the skin’s barrier, doing more harm than good. In a good product that is formulated with the skin in mind, these ‘bad’ alcohols can be combined to make an effective formula for the skin.  So it’s not all black and white! Just be weary of the proper formulations, and if you have questions be sure to talk to your skin coach.

The ‘good’ alcohols are what we refer to as ‘fatty’ alcohols. Unlike simple alcohols, fatty alcohols have emollient properties and can help to keep the skin. These alcohols are good for dry skin, and can help stabilize formulas. Fatty alcohols can enhance penetration of certain activities, including vitamin C and retinol.  

In short, both good and bad (fatty and simple) alcohols can benefit the skin, the key is knowing the role they play in the formula, and if the ingredients are complementing one another. The moral of this story is that just because you see alcohol on your ingredient list, it doesn’t mean you need to run for the hills.

We encourage all of our clients to be their own detectives and do their own research when it comes to their beauty products. At Skin Plus, we care about your skin and the science behind what will help it be it’s best- if you need help with your products or want to book an online consultation, we are here to help!