Alcohols in Skin Care - Good or Bad?

by Amy Ho

1 Aug 2019

Most skincare enthusiasts would’ve heard about the “alcohol in skincare is bad for you” statement. Fact or myth? Before you start tossing out all your alcohol-containing skin care products, let us get a few things straight for you.

The bad alcohol in skincare.

When you see beauty gurus and influencers going all out against using skincare containing alcohol, they’re generally avoiding a drying type of alcohol most often labelled as SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, or sometimes, isopropyl alcohol. While they do provide an immediate de-grease and quick-drying finish to the skin and seem appealing especially for dry skin, their short term benefits can lead to negative long term consequences.

How does alcohol in skincare damage your skin?

The alcohols mentioned above are known as volatile alcohols which can actually weaken your skin’s natural barrier when used repeatedly, causing your skin to lose its ability to retain moisture and elasticity. It strips off all the oil on your skin, including the natural sebum required to protect your skin from environmental stressors like UV radiation. Ever heard how alcohol consumption makes you age faster? Apparently, topical application of alcohol leads to cell death, meaning it increases symptoms of ageing too - yikes!


Not all alcohols are bad.

But put aside all the “evil” alcohol, there are the “good” ones as well. Alcohols like cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and lauryl alcohol are derived from natural ingredients such as coconut oil or vegetable oil. These alcohols are rich in healthy fats and are processed to develop a thick texture and contribute to the texture and moisturisation of skincare products. They’re not only safe for the skin but also does wonder especially for dry skin types!

So, should I avoid skincare containing alcohol?

The answer is yes to: volatile alcohols which are listed among the first 6 ingredients of a product, the higher the ranking, the higher the concentration of the ingredient. Small amounts of these alcohols are fine as they can help create a smooth matte finish and helps for better absorption like retinol and vitamin C.


Looking to skip out on the alcohol altogether? Good news - SANNY & JOLEEN LIFESTYLE’s skincare products are free from alcohol and are an absolute skin-friendly alternative for you.