Everything You Need to Know About Alcohol in Skincare


A big scary in skincare is alcohol, and with good reason. We've all heard stories of certain kinds of alcohols leaving skin dry, damaged and irritated, but did you know good alcohols exist too and they carry none of those nasty side effects.

The Bad

Let’s start off with the bad so we can end with the good. Evaporative solvent alcohols like SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol (also known as simple alcohols) are a big no-no if you see them on the ingredient list.

These alcohols are used because they are quick to dry and give off a tight, cooling sensation on skin. Here’s the stinker—though these alcohols may feel refreshing at first, they strip away skin’s natural oils and leave it dehydrated and damaged in the long run.

The Good

If you want to toss out all of your products that have the big alcohol-OH in it, we understand—but avoiding everything that contains alcohol is a disservice to your skin. 

Fatty alcohols like cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol are non-irritating, good alcohols. They help keep ingredients stable and give skin a smooth, pleasing feel.

Our newest launch, our Almond Body Butter contains cetearyl alcohol, a waxy substance derived naturally from plants like palm oil or coconut oil. This alcohol is what makes our body butter spread so effortlessly and feel so lightweight. Bonus! Cetearyl alcohol contains emollient properties that can help to draw in and hold moisture, and soften skin.

When navigating the world of good and bad alcohols our pro-tip is this: If an alcohol is listed as the first or even second ingredient, put the product back on the shelf. Focus on products that use fatty alcohols as a supplement to natural, plant-based ingredients—not make it the main star.