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

Say no to Alcohol-Based Skincare Products

Skincare products containing alcohol can sometimes do more harm than good. Here a dermatologist explains why alcohol is bad for you skin.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : August 24, 2022 10:17 AM IST

A daily skincare regimen can help prevent various skin problems, improve overall skin health, and delay signs of aging. But choosing the right products for your skin is very important when building a skincare routine. Using the wrong products can harm your skin and worsen an existing skin condition. So, before you buy a product, always look for the ingredients it has. Products containing alcohol as the main ingredient are best avoided.

"With overzealous skincare routines, we are treading dangerous ground like never before. Today, regardless of our skin type or skin condition, we are quick to use skincare products and expect miracles in return. The same is true for products containing alcohol that do more harm than good," says Dr. Abhishek Pilani, MD Dermatologist, Founder- Assure Clinic,

How bad are alcohol-based skincare products?

The dermatologistanswers:The alcohol that we get in skincare products can be divided into good fatty alcohols and bad alcohols. While fatty alcohols, found in waxes are good emollients and thickeners, denatured alcohols do not have fatty chains and they tend to dry out the skin and cause inflammation and irritation in the long run. Alcohols such as ethanol, methyl isopropyl and benzoyl alcohols will make you feel good the moment you apply them to your skin but, eventually, they will start thinning your skin. Ingredients like benzoyl, especially, stretch your skin and destroy 10 per cent of the water content in your skin. In addition to this, those with oily skin may love the effects of alcohol on their skin but applying products with denatured alcohol stimulates more oil production.

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Indian and Africans, races with higher melanin content, a substance in the body that produces hair, eye and skin pigmentation, have more chances of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and skin irritation due to alcohol-based products in their skincare routine.

Are there any exceptions?

Dr. Abhishek Pilani replies: The fatty alcohols that are heavier in terms of molecular weight, experts say, act as thickeners and skin moisturisers and are beneficial for your skin. For instance, Cetearyl helps the skin absorb vitamin C and retinol, lock in moisture, and provide nourishment. Further, skincare products with Cetearyl form a layer on the skin which protects it from further moisture loss. They are commonly used to help soften the skin and hair and to thicken and stabilize cosmetic products such as lotions and hair products.

How to know what works best for me?

The expert says: If alcohol is the main ingredient in a product, it certainly is a problem. Since our skin is the largest organ of our body, it is also very unique, and there is a need to protect it. It is therefore recommended to avoid using both good or bad alcohol in skincare routine to find out what works for you the best. Maintain a diary for a few months, and see the difference for yourself. Remember if you have sensitive skin or other allergies, it may be a good idea to perform a patch test with any product containing alcohol. Consult a doctor in case you experience burning, blistering, swelling, redness, or irritation that persists or gets worse.

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