Is Denatured Alcohol in Skin Care Products Bad For Skin?

Girl thinking about if denatured alcohol is bad for skin or dangerous

Alcohol denatured is listed as Alcohol Denat or ethanol denat. on the skin care product label. It is vegan and is seen in natural and organic skin care products. But what is denatured alcohol? Is it dangerous or bad for skin? 


What Is Denatured Alcohol In Toners, Sunscreens and Cosmetics?


In the past, various forms of alcohol such as isopropanol and methanol have been consumed to get an alcohol effect when the consumer did not have access to ethanol- the type of alcohol that is in wine, beer and hard liquor. There are stories of people drinking mouth washes and facial toners to feel intoxicated.   This is very dangerous because consumption of these forms of alcohol leads to many health issues.  To combat this problem, alcohol is denatured to make it unfit for consumption.  Denatured alcohol has additives to make it taste bad. Denatured alcohol is the form of alcohol that is used in skin care products. Denatured alcohol when applied topically in skin care products does not give a rise to alcohol levels  in the blood when used topically as an essence or a toner.


Side Effects Of Denatured Alcohol In Skincare

Denatured alcohol can disturb the microbiome on the skin by killing healthy skin bacteria.  It is also very drying and can injure your skin’s protective barrier.  We recommend that Dry Baumann Skin Types avoid using denatured alcohol in their skin care routines. However, small amounts are fine. So- the best advice is to avoid toners and essences when you have dry skin.  Moisturizers and serums usually do not have enough denatured alcohol to dry the skin. You can also counteract the drying effects of denatured alcohol by choosing a nonfoaming cleanser with protective fatty acids or a barrier repair moisturizer to protect your skin barrier.

Do you have dry skin? You can find out here.


Effects Of Denatured Alcohol On Your Skin Care Routine Effectiveness

Alcohol is a solvent which means it affects how other ingredients interact with each other.  This means that toners and other products with a large amount of alcohol can interfere with serums and moisturizers on your skin.  This is why every ingredient in every product of every step of your skin care routine matters.  Each skin care routine step needs to be considered when designing a skin care regimen.


Safety Of Denatured Alcohol on Skin Contact


The safety of denatured alcohol depends upon the safety of the substances used to denature the alcohol. In 2008, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel[i] (CIR) reported the following types of denatured alcohol to be safe: SD alcohol 3-A, SD alcohol 30, SD alcohol 39, SD alcohol 39-B, SD alcohol 39-C, SD alcohol 40, SD alcohol 40-B, and SD alcohol 40-C.


The CIR panel reported that these ingredients were not necessarily dangerous, but they could not establish that these alcohol denaturants were safe: quassin, brucine sulfate/brucine, and denatonium benzoate. We recommend avoiding alcohol denatured with quassin, brucine sulfate/brucine, and denatonium benzoate. (These are not commonly seen in skin care products.)




To learn more about alcohol in skincare products- click here

[i] Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. (2008). Final report of the safety assessment of alcohol denat., including SD alcohol 3-A, SD alcohol 30, SD alcohol 39, SD alcohol 39-B, SD alcohol 39-C, SD alcohol 40, SD alcohol 40-B, and SD alcohol 40-C, and the denaturants, quassin, brucine sulfate/brucine, and denatonium benzoate. International journal of toxicology27, 1-43.

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