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!