Alcohol in skincare

Alcohol in skincare is a subject of lots of debate. I believe that my input as a former researcher can help you. 

On today’s post and video, I will only deal with ethanol. In skin care, it is listed as ethanol, alcohol, or alcohol denat. 

Alcohol in skincare

Alcohol in skincare can be used as preservatives, as a texture enhancer, as a solvent, a penetration enhancer… Alcohol is volatile that evaporates quickly. 

This ingredient is under a lot of debate, and I think it is because there are no proper studies that have looked for its biologic effect on the skin in “normal” condition. A good example would be to use a cream containing alcohol at the third ingredient and look if the skin barrier is impaired and if there is inflammation in the lower layers… The few studies that I found used a dreadful amount of alcohol and didn’t look for cellular stress and inflammation. 

My opinion

During my years as a researcher in biology, I have used various concentrations of ethanol for my experiments. In biology, ethanol is used to remove lipids (=fats), to creates tiny holes in cell membranes, to fix cells… It is very well known that ethanol is toxic for the cells.  

If you have already read about ethanol, you probably know that the scientific blogger claims that there is no scientific evidence that alcohol is bad for the skin, which is true.  In my opinion, it is because nobody has done the proper experiments. In any case, it is known that a high concentration of ethanol is drying for the skin and can stink a lot the skin. If your skin barrier is damaged, the ethanol can reach the cells under the skin barrier and creates inflammation, which is why I am against it. I believe that continual exposure to ethanol can leads to speed up the process of aging. 

The only place where I agree with is in sunscreen. Most sunscreen filters require a lipid vehicle such as an oil resulting in a greasy formula. Ethanol helps to lighten the formula. However, ethanol in toner, essence, milk, lotion, creams, and so on, is easily avoidable, so why take the risk? 

If you want to know more and have geeky details, watch my video. 

Thank you for your time. 

A bientôt, 


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