Decoded: Should You Be Worried About The Alcohol In Your Skincare Products?

Most of the times, it's mentioned that the products are meant for specific skin types.

Life Hacks
3 min read
Hindi Female

We're aware of alcohol being used as an ingredient for preparing certain dishes. There are numerous ways this substance is used apart from just being consumed straight up. But how many of you have tried using it on a daily basis or even heard of it for being used for something like skincare?

You've probably used or have been using a product and not been aware of the fact that it contained alcohol. Now before we get to whether it's good or bad for your skin, know what suits you before you decide to use a product.

We live in times where words like pollution and global warming have made us more anxious than proactive because of which we try out things that are advertised very well. But most of the times, even they mention that the products are meant for specific skin types.


The idea here is not to create panic, but to help you understand whether the alcohol content in skincare products is good for you or not. We spoke to Dr Navya Handa, Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetologist, to help you understand better.

How Does Alcohol Content Serve Any Purpose in Skincare?

Dr Navya says, "Alcohol acts as a vehicle to help dissolve ingredients in skincare products that aren't water-soluble. It also helps drive ingredients deeper into the skin, thus resulting in more effective treatment."

"Alcohol evaporates quickly – this helps make the texture of the product better and gives it a weightless/light feel as well as a cooling effect."
Dr Navya Handa Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetologist Max Super speciality Hospital Shalimar Bagh

What Type of Alcohol is Good For The Skin?

Alcohol in skincare products can be split in two categories - the good fatty one and the bad ones. Personally, I've not tried either but now that I think of it, maybe I should consult an expert.


"Fatty alcohols such as Cetyl, Stearyl, and Cetearyl are typically used as emollients and thickeners in skincare products," Dr Navya Handa says.

So these are the good ones, when used post consulting the right person, of course. But talking about the bad ones or lets say 'potentially bad' ones, Dr Handa says, "simple alcohols ( ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, denatured, etc.) are alright only in low quantities. In higher concentrations, they can have the effect of stripping out moisture from the skin and are in general, damaging for most skin types."

Does it Work For All or Specific Skin Types?

Now that we're clear on what's the good and bad kind of alcohol for skincare, it's normal to wonder whether it'll work on your skin or not. There's a lot of concern around this topic, and it is valid to feel that way.


Dr Handa explains that, "for people with normal skin types, alcohol in low percentages is unlikely to cause any problem to the skin."

But not all of us have a normal skin type, right? So what do people with different skin types need to know?

"For dry or sensitive skin types as well as for people who have rosacea, simple alcohol-based products should be avoided in general since they are inherently drying in nature and can potentially damage the skin. However, fatty alcohol-based products (derived from coconut or palm oil) are good emollients and are in fact beneficial – helping the skin get a better texture and keep it moisturized," says Dr Navya Handa.

Which Skincare Products With Alcohol Are Usually Suggested for Usage?


One major use of alcohol is in the case of hand sanitisers. Such products require at least 60% alcohol (ethanol) to effectively counter viruses and germs.

In facial skincare, any product with alcohol is fine as long as the quantity of alcohol is low. Also, products with fatty alcohols are better than simple alcohols for the reasons mentioned above.
Dr Navya Handa Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetologist Max Super speciality Hospital Shalimar Bagh

Are Products Like Sunscreens And Night Creams Safe to Be Used if They Have Alcohol in Them?

According to Dr Navya, alcohol in small quantities is alright. However, if it is the main ingredient, then the product should be avoided. One easy way to check this is to ensure that name of the alcohol is listed near the end of the ingredient list.

When Should One Avoid Using Alcohol-Based Products?

"If your skin barrier is inflamed or there is a rash, then alcohol has the potential to be irritating and should be avoided," says Dr Navya.

We might have answered most of your questions but remember to read the label of the product you're using and enquire a dermatologist if you have concerns about whether or not it will work for your skin.

Your skin needs to feel happy!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Alcohol   Skincare   Dry Skin 

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