Remember when I wrote a review on the Neutrogena Visibly Clear Blackhead Eliminating Cleanser? A reader noted that it has these two potentially irritating ingredients and wanted to know more about them.
- Methyl lactate, which is a derivative of menthol, used as a cooling agent and fragrance in cosmetics.
Since the methyl lactate is explained in a short and sweet manner above, I thought that today,we could focus on the alcohol (I say, wine in hand…).
Alcohol is a cosmetic ingredient that receives a lot of press on whether it should be avoided or not. I say, the best person to decide that should be the user. Just like any other ingredient, what irritates me may work for you and vice versa. It’s the whole, “One’s man meat… thing, ya know?
The Neutrogena Visibly Clear Blackhead Eliminating Lotion is a perfect product to use as an example. I absolutely love this product as a toner. It works perfectly for my normal to dry skin despite the fact that it has Alcohol Denat aka ethyl alcohol aka the bad alcohol, high up on the ingredient list.
I believe the ethanol is being used as a solvent/penetration enhancer to help deliver the salicylic acid into the skin so it can work better. My skin has not been dry and sensitive when I use this, maybe thanks in part to the comprehensive moisturizing/hydration evening routine I have.
Aside from the annoying potential cuticle-killing plastic flip cap, this product is quite efficient as a BHA…for me!
A Few Notes About Alcohol in Skin Care
- From what I understand, there are different types of alcohol in cosmetics; high-molecular-weight alcohols and low-molecular-weight alcohols. Low molecular weight alcohols, act as solvents and depending on the amount in a formulation, can dry your skin by dissolving your skin’s natural oils. High molecular weight alcohols act as oily moisturizers since they are emollient.
- The alcohols that can be irritating and drying are:
- Ethyl alcohol (also listed as Ethanol, Alcohol Denat or SD Alcohol)
- Isopropyl alcohol (also listed as isopropanol)
The alcohols that act as oily moisturizers include:
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Stearyl Alcohol (Source: Beauty Brains)
At the end of the day, I’m a strong believer in ‘Do You Boo!’ Some people don’t mind alcohol in their skin care (or wine glasses) while others do. Whatever skin care decision you make, let it be informed. Patch test your skin care and research ingredients, while avoiding pseudoscience like the plague.
Lastly, kindly note that all the products I review are based on personal views. I’m not endorsing anything for all and sundry. I can’t recommend a product for you since I’m not a licensed medical professional. Wolf + Moroko is just a platform for a beauty obsessed African woman to share her cosmetics findings and views.
For more information on alcohol in skin care, here are a few references.