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Take the skin care product closest to you and look at its ingredient list-chances are great Cetyl alcohol Appears at the top of the list, near Good Water.Just a glance at the word alcohol may make your skin start to feel dry and itchy after years of excessive drying Alcohol-based astringent In the 90s. But don’t be afraid, cetyl alcohol is not that kind of thing. It doesn’t even belong to the same family as the alcohol you add to margaritas or power hand sanitizers. Ohio dermatologists say that in fact, the FDA allows beauty brands to label their products as “alcohol-free” even if the product contains cetyl alcohol. Hope Mitchell.

We asked dermatologists to share why cetyl alcohol is an essential ingredient in moisturizers and lotions.

What exactly is cetyl alcohol?

According to a dermatologist certified by the New York City Council, cetyl alcohol is a waxy solid that is added to lotions and creams to help stabilize and bind their ingredients “to prevent them from separating into oils or liquids.” Marina Peredo.

Cosmetic chemist Ginger King added that another function of cetyl alcohol is to extend the shelf life of the product and increase its viscosity to make it feel richer and more concentrated.

How is it different from other alcohols?

Alcohols commonly used in skin care can be divided into three different types: simple, fatty and aromatic. Simple alcohol, such as isopropanol (also known as rubbing alcohol), ethanol or methanol, is what we use to stimulate and dry the skin tone, while emitting a strong, burning nose odor. Mitchell said that they are usually added to skin care products as “degreasers used after cleansing the skin and before applying chemical peels for optimal absorption.”

Fatty alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol, are just the opposite. (More on that later.) Usually, they come from vegetable oils, especially palm oil and coconut oil, King said. However, in the past, cetyl alcohol was not vegan at all-it was extracted from sperm whale oil.

How does cetyl alcohol benefit the skin?

In addition to acting as an emulsifier or thickener in skin care products, cetyl alcohol is also a petroleum-like occlusion agent.It is “very suitable for protecting the skin barrier from dryness and preventing moisture loss,” explained the board-certified dermatologist in Pittsburgh Lindsay Zubritzki.

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