Saturday, January 9, 2010

Alcohol in Skincare;
What you Don't Know Might Help You!

If you're like me, you're at the point in the year where you're desperately trying to conserve as much of your skin's moisture as possible. By this day in age, anyone who has had a skin care consultation or read one or two beauty rags knows to stay away from alcohol in skincare products. Alcohol gets a bad rap because it strips your skin's natural oils, drying it and breaking down it's protective barrier. That's old news.

Problem is, like so many other things in life, relying on stereotypes will only bring you trouble. Glance at a few creams and lotions in your bathroom cabinet and you're bound to find more than a few that contain alcohol. "WHAT is going on here?" you may demand. Have you been played the fool by stingy companies trying to steal your skin's precious moisture? Was the department store salesgirl spinning alcohol-free rhetoric actually a clueless twit (or perhaps a Puritan?) Calm down, and prepare yourself. You see, the truth that most people fail to mention is that not all alcohols are bad.

Certain alcohols are actually chains of fatty acids, and are used as a carrier agent to thicken or emulsify a product (so it doesn't separate like old mayo!) Far from being drying, fatty acid alcohols are actually emollient- meaning they help to prevent water loss from the skin, softening and soothing as they go.

So what now? Well, the list of alcohols is lengthy, and unless you've got a handy-dandy photographic memory, listing the good -vs- the bad ones isn't going to do anything but bore the pants off of all of us! Here's a simple verse I learned a few years ago that will make your life much easier (at least, where this issue is concerned.) So here's the magic phrase, revealing to you which alcohols are the GOOD ones:

"When you see alcohols, steer left"

so, we break down the mnemonic and get-

see alcohols= C alcohols (OK, fine, they're cetyl, cetearyl, cetostearyl and cetyl alcohol 40)

steer= Stearyl alcohol

left= Lanolin alcohol

So, now you know. Alcohol is nothing to be afraid of (I say so soon after New Years!)

1 comment:

Rocaille said...

I loved this post, so interesting! I knew not alcohols are bad for the skin, but the mnemonic you use it super clever and helpful! x

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