person holding white plastic container

Do you need to avoid using skin care products containing alcohol?

person holding white plastic container

Many brands are now promoting alcohol-free as one their main selling points. We see this ingredient everywhere. It is easy to wonder if it can cause skin problems. We asked Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Marisa Garshick MD, to tell us everything we need about alcohol.

What is the purpose of including alcohol in skin care products?

Alcohol can be used in many ways when it is incorporated into skin care products. Dr Graf says that alcohol’s primary purpose is to increase the penetration of other ingredients. Alcohol helps other ingredients like vitamin C or retinol to penetrate the deeper layers of skin. This makes them more effective. It can dissolve stubborn ingredients that won’t wash off with water. Dr Garshick concurs, noting that alcohol is used before a chemical peel to ensure maximum absorption. Another use for alcohol? Oil control. Dr Garshick explains that many creams and gel-based moisturizers use it to balance the skin, and reduce oil production.

What can alcohol do to skin?

Dr Graf says alcohol can cause skin to lose its barrier and accelerate the ageing process. It can also harm repair pathways. It can dry the skin and strip it of its natural moisture. Even if your skin is oily, this applies.

Although alcohol can regulate sebum, excessive use can lead to dehydration and increased oil production. It is easy to tell if your skin has been affected. Redness, flaking and sensitivity to alcohol are some of the most obvious warning signs.

Can we to use skin care products containing alcohol?

It all depends because not all alcohols are created equal. Dr Graf explained that certain products containing the ingredient can be very beneficial for the skin. She says that it can be used to treat blemishes in spots. There are also “good” alcohols like fatty alcohols that can treat dry skin or eczema. However, it is important to be able distinguish between the “good” and the “bad” types.

Dr Garshick points out that fatty alcohols, such as those derived from palm oil or coconut oil can be added to thicken products, but are gentle on the skin. Cetyl, cetearyl and stearyl alcohol are all gentle alcohols. These can be emulsifying and emollient. She says that drying iterations to avoid are ethanol and denatured alcohol as well as methanol. These products can cause irritation for those with sensitive skin or extremely dry complexions (like rosacea).

What can you do if alcohol causes skin irritation?

Dr Graf recommends that you stop using alcohol-based products if you experience dermatitis or other pain. To restore moisture, you can use a reliable moisturiser such as petroleum jelly. Dr Garshick recommends that you aim for greater hydration in the beginning of your routine. A gentle hydrating cleanser won’t hurt, and can help to repair the skin’s barrier. Avoid active ingredients like retinoids and benzoyl peroxide during your recovery period as they can cause irritation and dryness.

woman smiling and standing on one leg beside pillar Previous post How to Style Mom Jeans and What to Wear With Them?
man walking on road while holding bag during daytime Next post The Hottest Womenswear Collections: Why Men Go Crazy for It?