Alcohol in Skin Care: Is It Ever Okay?

After applying a toner, moisturizer, or face cleanser, skin that feels dry and depleted leaves you feeling perplexed—almost as if you've been deceived. Skincare aims to ensure that you never get worse over time. Alcohol, but not just alcohol—volatile alcohols that harm the skin's barrier—might be the culprit.

It turns out that when it comes to skincare, not all alcohols are made equal. While it's typically recommended to stay away from simple alcohols, some alcohols, especially fatty alcohols, are good for the skin.

What Alcohols Are Advantageous?

Let's learn how to distinguish between bad and good alcohol before we start with the terrible ones.

What is fatty alcohol?

Fatty alcohol is made from coconut or palm oil and can be healthy for the skin, and is occasionally used to thicken a composition. Because it increases the transdermal transport of specific substances into the skin, ethanol is a well-known topical penetration enhancer. These are propylene glycol, Cetearyl alcohol, stearyl, and cetyl.

Fatty acids are the ideal blending agent because of their non-irritating nature. They can also assist in creating a creamy, richer texture that feels sumptuous on your skin in addition to blending oil and water-based components.

Furthermore, fatty acids' emollient properties aid in flattening the cells on the skin's surface, improving its texture and giving it a smoother, softer feel to the touch.

Fatty acids, found in oils, are the source of fatty alcohol. These provide a moisturizing effect and aid in thickening creams and lotions. They are advantageous for our skin both now and in the future, especially for those individuals who have dry skin.

Vitamins A1 (retinol) and E, which are also alcohol, are beneficial for the surface of the overall skin.

What is simple alcohol?

You must think twice before purchasing the product when you see any of them on an ingredient list. Simple alcohols, commonly referred to as volatile alcohols, severely dehydrate the body. Your skin may experience a cascade of issues due to dehydration, including itching, sensitivity, dullness, excessive sebum production, fine lines, wrinkles, and more.

Why, however, do certain brands continue to use them if they pose such a risk to the health of your skin? Simple alcohols, including ethyl alcohol, methanol, ethanol, denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol, are typically employed as solvents to improve the texture of a formula or as antibacterials.

Simple alcohols can serve as preservatives, improve the skin's absorption of other formula ingredients, and lighten the product's texture. All of those characteristics may seem appealing, but the underlying problems surface after prolonged use.

What are the benefits of alcohol for the skin?

Different alcohol has different benefits for the skin. They are as follows −

Wine- Wine is renowned for its skin-healing abilities. The best uses for this alcohol are to remove dead skin cells and treat pigmentations. It increases blood flow and restores damaged skin cells. Additionally, consuming wine gives your skin a brilliant internal glow. If you don't drink wine, you can substitute red wine for it by adding a few spoonfuls to your face pack.

Gin- The juniper berries used to make gin are supposed to be superfoods that increase blood flow to the face, giving it a youthful appearance. They also give gin its distinctive flavor.

Vodka- The alcohol in vodka is potent. But it can be very beneficial for your skin. Vodka does wonders for skin that is drab and sagging. It clears your pores, makes them smaller, and tightens your skin when used with your face mask. It makes you glow from within naturally.

Beer- Beer is the only alcoholic beverage that will lighten your skin tone. The vitamins in the beer give your skin a healthy glow. Beer is a natural face cleanser that keeps your skin's pH balance in check and, as a result, improves your complexion.

For getting the best results, shampoo your hair once every 15 days with cooled beer.

Rum- Rum is well known for its antimicrobial qualities, which may surprise you. Rum is the drink of choice if you frequently get pimples and acne. Its calming properties reduce acne flare-ups and eliminate bacteria. You might apply a mixture of rose water and rum in a ratio of 1:2 to the affected area. After 5 to 10 minutes, rinse.

How much alcohol is considered excessive?

Alcohol is only beneficial for the skin when used sparingly. Avoiding alcohol-based products may not be ideal because fatty alcohol sometimes enhances the quality of skincare products. If you have dry, sensitive skin or rosacea, you must avoid all products that contain alcohol. Using products with a high concentration of strong alcohols sparingly or not at all is a good idea.

But how do you tell which product contains a high concentration of alcohol? You can do it by checking what level of alcohol is mentioned in the ingredient list. If it is the number one ingredient, it indicates the concentration is very high. But if it is after five or six ingredients, then the concentration is low.

Should you stay away from alcohol in skincare?

Occasionally, bad alcohols are okay. Since spot treatments intend to dry up the infection, which alcohol can do, their usage is permitted. While ensuring that a professional chemical peel penetrates the skin as deeply as possible, it is occasionally used to reduce any surface oil before an esthetician applies it.

What if you want to completely stay away from the word "alcohol" in your skincare? You would benefit from ingredients with more advantageous qualities, such as fatty alcohols, if you disregarded every item that ends in the molecular symbol for alcohol, OH.


While some alcohols are drying and harmful for most skin types, especially those with dry, sensitive skin or rosacea, fatty alcohols are not terrifying and are helpful in skincare to help draw in and keep moisture. However, before incorporating a new product into your skincare routine, double-check the ingredients list to prevent unpleasant reactions.

Updated on: 16-Feb-2023


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