Discussion: Alcohol in Skincare – Good or Bad?

If you’re anything like myself, you’ve probably been drawn into the hype that there are certain ingredients in your skin care products that you should avoid. Like the plague. And while I commend anyone who educate themselves on what is bad for their skin, recently I started to ask “what if we’re going a bit far?” What I mean is, what if we’re just googling “bad ingredients in skin care” without really looking at things in context. The one ingredient a lot of people get hung up over, is alcohol.

Now I’m not a dermatologist, or a scientist, or anything like that. However, I decided to do a bit of extra reading rather than read just the first couple of links that Google threw at me.

From experience, I usually avoid alcohol in my skin care products because my skin goes through days when it’s a bit sensitive and alcohol is one of the ingredients I suspect causes my skin to freak out.

And many sites suggest that alcohol is the devil for skin. Just from googling “impact of alcohol on skin” you can see that already, the most popular sites bluntly take the stance that all alcohol is bad for the skin. And a lot of people will read through these, see evidence that it is all bad, and stop researching further into it.


And for a while, I did that too. But I then started thinking: “well, if all alcohol are bad, why do they put it there and why do regulations let them put these harmful ingredients in there?”. So I carried on researching. After a little while, I stumbled upon a website which offered a slightly different perspective.

The first result when I googled “alcohol in skincare” was this website which took a slightly more impartial stance. Feel free to read it all yourself, but I’ll sum it up the best I can. It openly acknowledges that alcohol can be damaging for the skin, but suggests that not all alcohols are bad, and refers to different types of alcohols, which sounds too much like GCSE Chemistry for me. However, the writer clearly outlines that certain alcohols with certain names, like cetearyl alcohol are not damaging for the skin, unlike ones like alcohol denat, which are.

I think this is a great variation from other biased websites, however I am slightly hesitant about trusting them too easily. If there’s one thing my degree has taught me so far, is that you shouldn’t trust everything you read. But it has given me something to think about.

At the end of the day, I can’t say whether alcohol is bad for your skin or not. However, I decided to write this post because I thought some of you guys might find it interesting to read a slightly different source with a slightly different perspective.

The way I see it, test things out and see what works for you. After looking through the ingredients list and testing out different products, I’m gradually working out which ingredients irritate my skin (alcohol based or not) and which ones my skin can handle. For example, alcohol denat often causes my skin to sting and go red, whereas cetearyl alcohol hasn’t had a similar effect on my skin.

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3 Responses to Discussion: Alcohol in Skincare – Good or Bad?

  1. Nice post! I think it’s super helpful to do your own research and figure things out. So many people constantly preach about how bad certain things are when they don’t even know the facts or science behind it!

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