Cosmetic trichologist, founder of the natural cosmetics brand (@ natureal.ua) and columnist at BeautyHack Vita Liasota told which alcohols to fear in cosmetics, and which ones are absolutely safe for skin and hair. Don't panic: panthenol is also alcohol.
Key points at a glance: functions and classification
Many adherents of natural cosmetics begin to twitch their eyes from the word “alcohol”: “How is this possible, it dries, it also provokes hypersecretion of the sebaceous glands. Execute, you cannot pardon. " This is partly true. But it is impossible to define all "representatives of the species" by the same brush.
Alcohols can perform a wide variety of functions in cosmetics. Manufacturers use them as solvents, antiseptics, emulsifiers, preservatives and stabilizers to suppress unwanted reactions during the manufacturing process. Cosmetic alcohols are divided into three large groups: simple, aromatic and fatty. Which of these innocuous names hides a "wolf" in sheep's clothing? Let's figure it out.
Simple as three kopecks?
Simple alcohols are also called monohydric - they contain one OH group. The most famous to represent "families" is ethanol. Its formula is familiar to everyone from school. Other slightly less popular simple alcohols are methanol, denatured alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol.
Visually, these substances are difficult to distinguish from each other. They are all liquid and transparent like water. Most often they can be found in tonics that tighten pores, as well as products for problem skin as an antibacterial component.
Simple alcohols are good preservatives, but not the skin's best friends. Firstly, they dry out and dehydrate cells greatly, increasing the risk of expression lines. Secondly, they violate the lipid barrier that protects against the negative effects of the environment. Thirdly, simple alcohols are the cause of hypersecretion of the sebaceous glands. Overdried skin begins to actively produce sebum, which causes the pores to become heavily clogged, acne and rashes become even more.
On the label, they are designated as: Methanol, Ethyl Alcohol, Alcohol Denat, Isopropanol (there are other variations). Always pay attention to the composition. The further the alcohol is among the ingredients, the less it is in the product. If the store has a sample, apply the composition to your hand. Coldly? You don't have to read the label - there is a lot of alcohol. Leave it on the shelf.
Aromatic alcohols: what, where, when?
This group of alcohols performs the same functions as the previous one. But they have a smell - they can be used as a flavoring agent. The most common aromatic alcohols: benzyl (Benzyl Alcohol) - gives a floral aroma, but in large quantities can cause irritation, cinnamyl (Cinnamylalcohol) - severely dries the skin.
In this case, you need to look at concentration. 5% is considered safe. But even small amounts of aromatic alcohols can harm dry skin.
Fatty Alcohols: Safe Mode
Did you know that alcohols are solid? Fatty (they are also called wax) - just like that. They are obtained from vegetable oils (mainly coconut). Just like the two previous groups, they have an OH group, but they have a completely different effect on the skin, softening it and slowing down the process of moisture evaporation. They are responsible for the "smoothness" and "velvety" that marketers like to appeal to. By the way, this group includes panthenol (yes, this is also alcohol) - an excellent component with regenerating properties.
Look for fatty alcohols under the following names: Cetyl Alcohol, Lauryl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Caprylic Alcohol, Glycerin (glycerin).
Interesting facts about cosmetic alcohols
A few interesting facts that will definitely not be superfluous.
- Menthol and starch are alcohols. Some of them are irreplaceable participants in biochemical processes in the body.
- If the label says Alcohol Free, this does not mean that there is no alcohol in the composition. You won't find ethanol among the ingredients, but you can easily find methyl alcohol.
- When alcohols are used as preservatives, their content should not exceed 10%. Alas, in many cases this figure is twice as high - 20%.
- Beware of the organic labels. Ethanol can be organic too. From corn, for example.
- Plant extracts on the packaging can also be alcohols! In this case, the manufacturer is not obliged to indicate the fact that the product contains alcohol.
Read more on silicone and SLS in shampoos.
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