Stearyl Alcohol

Stearyl Alcohol is a white coloured wax that is often part of the ingredient list of many personal care products. It is often derived from vegetable & nut oils or even from animal fat.

It is a type of fatty alcohol that forms emulsions. You may think of it as a type of glue that prevents the oil & liquid components in the ingredients list from separating. It also prevents foam from forming when the product is shaken.

On a side note, do keep an eye out for an ingredient called “Cetearyl Alcohol” or simply “Ceto-stearyl” while doing a background check on a product. Cetearyl Alcohol is basically the love child of Stearyl Alcohol and another fellow fatty alcohol called Cetyl Alcohol. Never find one without the other!

The main difference between the two products is that:

  • Stearyl Alcohol stabilizes the foaming as well as acting as a thickener that gives the product a desirable consistency (a.k.a so your product won’t be too runny!)
  • Cetyl Alcohol acts as a spreading agent whereby it gives the product its silky texture that helps the product glide smoothly across your skin when applying it.

Benefits of this ingredient include:

1. It moisturizes your skin

As it is a type of fatty alcohol, it means that it is a great moisturizer for your face! Moreover, it acts as a lubricant that creates a soft & smooth appearance for your skin.

2. It protects your skin

This ingredient is an emollient, whereby it creates a layer on the skin that keeps moisture locked in and other environmental elements, such as dust & dirt particles, out of your skin. It basically helps to maintain the skin’s natural, healthy barrier.

On the downside..:

1. It is mildly comedogenic

Like any other products that contain oil, Stearyl Alcohol do pose the risk of clogging your pores that may lead to breakouts.

2. It may cause slight irritation

As most fatty alcohols are derived from plants, there is a very small chance that the plants that the fatty alcohol is extracted from may not be safe to be used on the skin, or you may be allergic to that particular plant. Although it is a very small probability, it is still recommended that your conduct a patch test on either the back of your hand or forearm before applying it to your face in order to be safe.

The Bottom Line:

The safety of the ingredient has been approved by both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. If the FDA permits it to be a multipurpose additive to be used in food and consumed into our bodies, and the CIR Expert Panel agreed that it is a harmless ingredient to be used in cosmetics, then rest assured that Stearyl Alcohol is safe to be used on our precious face!

Well, there you go! Two professional bodies have stamped the SAFE & APPROVED label on this ingredient, and we found yet another good ingredient for our skin. One less thing to worry about and one more knowledge gained from this. Once again, do not worry too much about this ingredient & be safe while choosing your next skincare product 🙂

Note: All the information presented in my posts are based on my personal experience with the products & secondary research that I found online, either through journal articles, professional website or other credible blogs. I am neither a professional dermatologist nor a scientist, hence I am no expert. Please feel free to do more research instead of deciding on trying a product based purely on my posts to avoid any misunderstandings and mistakes!

Sources:

https://cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/stearyl-alcohol

https://incidecoder.com/ingredients/stearyl-alcohol

https://www.leaf.tv/articles/what-is-the-difference-between-stearyl-cetyl-alcohol-in-conditioners/

https://thedermreview.com/stearyl-alcohol

Propylene Glycol

If you’ve ever tried to search up this ingredient, you will probably find that this ingredient is very popular in the F&B industry. Words such as ‘antifreeze’ is widely used to describe Propylene Glycol as an additive in food, but let’s come back to the cosmetic world shall we?

Propylene Glycol is a type of alcohol (don’t panic first!) commonly used in thousands of skincare products. This ingredient is used in small amounts in order to keep the products from melting at a high temperature, or from freezing if exposed to extremely low temperature. 

OH WOW! Disney's Peter Pan cartoon = American "ecchi"

The good stuff:

1. It acts as a humectant

As a humectant, the ingredient retains & preserves extra moisture on the outer layer of our skin, thus leaving our skin feeling hydrated while at the same time reduce flaking on very dry skin. It is also an emollient, which creates a layer on the skin in order to maintain the moisture in our skin. 

2. It improves the look of your skin!

Aging results in our skin losing a component called Neutral Moisturizing Factor (NMF) that can reduce our naturally produced humectants and will leave our skin feeling extremely dry. With this ingredient, it can restore the moisture that our skin is lacking, preventing it from being dehydrated & flaky. 

 

On the fence:

1. It helps other ingredients penetrate into your skin

Propylene Glycol has a special effect that allows penetration enhancement of other ingredients in a product into the skin. This poses as both a risk and a benefit. On the one hand, if there are harmful ingredients in the product, then it can help sabotage our skin. On the other hand, it can help strengthen the the absorption and effectiveness of the benefits from good ingredients. However, Propylene Glycol by itself is not harmful.

 

One downside:

1. Potential skin irritant

People with sensitive skin and eczema have to be cautious with this product! Although rare, it is found that this ingredient does cause rashes, itchiness and potential allergic reactions. Thus, as always, you should conduct a patch test when trying out new skincare products that contain Propylene Glycol!

 

Bottom line:

Don’t fret y’all! Despite how some websites/blogs claim that this ingredient is toxic, there are research done by toxicologists that states that it does NOT raise any health risk at all. It hydrates and it moisturizes, with only a slight chance of you being allergic to it. All in all, this ingredient does not deal any sort of serious damage!

In addition to that, this ingredient is considered to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the F&B industry. Hence, if it is recognized as safe to be ingested into our body, then rest assured if this product is present in your skincare product for topical uses.

 

NoteAll the information presented in my posts are based on my personal experience with the products & secondary research that I found online, either through journal articles, professional website or other credible blogs. I am neither a professional dermatologist nor a scientist, hence I am no expert. Please feel free to do more research instead of deciding on trying a product based purely on my posts to avoid any misunderstandings and mistakes!

 

Sources: 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/propylene-glycol#section4

https://www.paulaschoice.com/ingredient-dictionary/texture-enhancer/propylene-glycol.html

What’s so terrible about propylene glycol?

https://cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/propylene-glycol

https://www.byrdie.com/propylene-glycol-for-skin-4768190

Cetyl Alcohol

Cetyl Alcohol, also known as Palmityl Alcohol,  is fatty alcohol typically derived from vegetable oils, such as coconut oil or palm oil. It can also be synthetically made in a lab. It is commonly found in cosmetic products such as moisturizers, lotions, shampoo, sunscreen & many more.

This ingredient acts as an emulsifier for the other ingredients in the product, which means that it acts as a stabilizer that prevents ingredients that usually separate from each other to break up. It also acts as a thickener, so that it increases the viscosity of a product & gives it a creamy texture for easy application.

However, don’t let the word “Alcohol” in its name fool you!

Breakfast @ Tiffasy's alcohol

Unlike the alcohol ingredients in skincare products that everyone warned you about, Cetyl Alcohol does NOT dry out your skin at all. In fact, it actually does just the opposite!

Benefits of this ingredient include:

1. It moisturizes!

As mentioned above, this is a fatty alcohol. Thus, it only makes sense if it moisturizes your skin as you apply it. The ingredient acts as an emollient, which means it generates an oily layer on your skin in order to retain the moisture inside.

2. It does not irritate your skin

Due to its fatty nature, Cetyl Alcohol soothes & heals your skin. It typically does not dry out or irritate your skin, but softens it instead and decreases the cracking & peeling of very dry skin.

 

But on the downside

1. It is slightly comedogenic

This ingredient is undeniably made from fat & oil, and it literally forms a layer on your skin to seal your moisture in, so of course, it may possess pore-clogging characteristics. Based on numerous reports, on a 5-point scale, it is found that Cetyl Alcohol scored between 2 to 3. This means that it has a borderline pore-clogging potential.

2. It may cause allergic reactions for sensitive skin

There is still an extremely small percentage of people who may experience allergic reactions, especially those who have sensitive skin. A report shows that out of 737 people with sensitive skin, 7% have experienced redness,  inflammation & irritation after using this ingredient. 

 

However, don’t fret! The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has stated that Cetyl Alcohol is indeed safe to be added into a skincare product & to be used on our skin. So rest assured!

 

The Bottom Line:

Cetyl Alcohol is certainly part of the “GOOD” alcohol ingredient gang. It keeps our skin soft and moisturized, instead of drying it out, unlike the “BAD” alcohols. Yes, although it has the potential to clog our pores, it is a very important ingredient that most products require in order to be appliable. Yes, it seals the moisture in by creating a layer on top which, again, may potentially clog pores. However, would you rather let all your moisture leave your skin & trigger your glands to produce more oil which can also clog up your pores more? Moreover, I wouldn’t worry too much about it being an irritant as I personally have sensitive skin as a small incident involving me getting severely sunburned has made my skin super sensitive to harsh ingredients. However, always do a patch test when you are trying out any new skincare products, just in case!

Therefore, you don’t have to worry too much about this ingredient! It does more good than damage 🙂

 

 

Interesting Fact: “Cetyl Alcohol acquired its name from the Latin word Cetus, which means ‘whale oil’ as that is where this fatty alcohol was originally derived from!”

 

NoteAll the information presented in my posts are based on my personal experience with the products & secondary research that I found online, either through journal articles, professional website or other credible blogs. I am neither a professional dermatologist nor a scientist, hence I am no expert. Please feel free to do more research instead of deciding on trying a product based purely on my posts to avoid any misunderstandings and mistakes!

 

Sources:

Cetyl Alcohol

https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/products/all-about-cetyl-alcohol.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/cetearyl-alcohol#uses

https://www.paulaschoice.com/ingredient-dictionary/thickeners-emulsifiers/cetyl-alcohol.html

Plant derived alcohol may be clogging your pores

https://www.annmariegianni.com/why-you-dont-want-alcohols-in-your-skin-care/

https://www.platinumskincare.com/comedogenic-ratings/

Pore Clogging Ingredients

 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

SLS is a ‘surfactant’ that creates foam & bubbles and can effectively remove dirt & excess sebum from our skin. A high percentage of this ingredient can leave your skin feeling squeaky clean. Hence, it is found in all types of cleansing products around us, such as shampoos, body wash, hand wash & face cleansers. It is found in household cleaners as well, which causes people to associate the ingredient to being a harsh substance to be used against their skin.

There are two downsides to this ingredient:

1. It strips our skin of its beneficial natural oil

This can cause our skin to become overly dry, which results in irritation & itchiness to the skin.

2. May create & become carcinogens

Carcinogens are basically the thing that causes cancer, and only when exposed & mixed with another substance called formaldehyde will it create nitrosamines, which is cancerous.

However, studies show that it is almost impossible for SLS & formaldehyde to react & form nitrosamines due to the lack of nitrogen atoms found in both the substances. Hence, there is nothing to worry about 🙂

The Bottom Line:

To me, SLS is a misunderstood ingredient. People are quick to shun cleansers that contain this ingredient. However, depending on the amount, small amounts are generally harmless as it will not be harsh on your skin. Although we would sometimes want that squeaky clean feeling after cleansing to assure us that it has done its job to remove all dirt and oil, we should pay attention to the amount of SLS used in order to avoid robbing our skin of its natural oil! Therefore, products with small portions of SLS are still acceptable to be used.

So, don’t panic when you see SLS on your product’s ingredient list and pay attention to the amount incorporated in the product. If the aftereffect of using the product irritates & makes your skin burn & itch, it is most likely due to the high amount of SLS used, and you should consider switching up to a more gentle & mild cleanser for your skin 🙂

Recommended products with a low percentage of SLS:

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Note: All the information presented in my posts are based on my personal experience with the products & secondary research that I found online, either through journal articles, professional website or other credible blogs. I am neither a professional dermatologist nor a scientist, hence I am no expert. Please feel free to do more research instead of deciding on trying a product based purely on my posts to avoid any misunderstandings and mistakes!

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/what-is-sodium-lauryl-sulfate#uses

https://www.tiege.com/blogs/news/5-common-face-wash-ingredients-to-stay-away-from

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651417/