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You may have noticed the amount of alcohol-free skincare products about. Why do they exist, and what is the need for alcohol in skin care products anyway?
JustAboutSkin has the answers, and explains how simple alcohols are mostly used as an antiseptic – to give the product anti-bacterial qualities. They are derived from sugars, starches, and other carbohydrates.
Here are some examples:
- ethanol (also goes by the name ethyl alcohol, used in rubbing alcohol)
- isopropyl alcohol (also used in rubbing alcohol)
- denatured alcohol (also appears as SD alcohol or Alcohol Denat.)
- The type of alcohol that can dry out skin is SD Alcohol or Alcohol Denatured (abbreviated Alcohol Denat.) It may also appear as ‘Alcohol’ on a label. The alcohol in SD Alcohol is Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol). It is also found in Rubbing Alcohol.
This kind of alcohol (a low molecular weight alcohol) dissolves surface oil but dries out skin (because it evaporates very quickly). When skin is dried out by alcohol, the skin’s protective barrier is weakened, which opens up the skin to all sorts of issues, including the likelihood of more irritation.
SD alcohol should not be applied ALONE to skin, but in combination with other ingredients, it may be perfectly fine. It depends on how much there is and what else is in the formula.
It is hard to know exactly how much alcohol there is in a product, because the percentage concentrations are never given. The only thing you can do is look to see where it falls on an ingredient list.
Ingredients are listed in order from highest concentration to lowest. But this is not enough information to draw a conclusion. The majority of a product typically consists of the first 6-10 ingredients. But even if alcohol is listed in the top 10, it doesn’t mean it’s drying. It depends on what else is in the formula. There might be some emollient or fatty ingredients that make the product non-drying.
The best thing to do is try the product on your skin before you buy. Or read some online reviews by other people. I realise it’s not easy getting access to samples. But trying it on your own skin is really the only way to find out.
Drugstore toners or astringents have a lot of simple alcohol because they are geared toward teenagers with oily skin. This is why you often hear people say alcohol is bad for skin. Astringent toners will dry out skin, which makes oily skin worse in the long run.
You should avoid buying toners or astringents in drugstores (almost all of them are for acne or oily skin). Pay more for a toner from a beauty retailer or department store. These are the kinds that are hydrating.
One great example of an alcohol-free cleaners is Matis Lime Blossom Lotion which is an alcoholfree skincare lotion that removes last traces of makeup with the infinitely gentle care that delicate skin needs. Matis Lime Blossom Lotion provides a wonderful sensation of relaxation, prolonged by its sweet scent and natural lime blossom extract.
For sensitive skin.
Features & benefits:
- Removes last traces of makeup.
- Provides a wonderful sensation of relaxation.
- Leaves the complexion relaxed and calm.
How to use:
Saturate a cotton pad morning and night to remove cleanser residue and prepare the skin for moisturiser. Can be used anytime during the day to refresh the skin.
- Lime Blossom Extract Soothing, antiseptic and healing. A rich source of Vitamin C.
- Allantoin Healing, soothing and antiirritant properties.