While alcohol can wreak havoc on the skin, the truth is, some alcohol types are actually beneficial to the skin. So what's bad and what's good? First, let’s divide alcohol into two major groups: those that we drink, and those that may be present in your skincare products.
Alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds that can destroy your skin. Look at Jennifer Lopez, who’s now 50 and looking fabulous and much younger than she is. Her secret? Simply not drink any alcohol. “I don’t drink,” she once said. “That really wrecks your skin as you get older.”
What drinking alcohol does to the skin includes:
As alcohol is a diuretic, the most immediate effect is dehydration. The more and longer you drink, the worse the dehydration damage gets, and the more fine lines, dry lines and ultimately deep wrinkles you will have.
Alcohol inflames the tissue, changes the hormonal milieu in the skin, and this systemic inflammation to the skin caused by alcohol creates a histamine reaction—it alters the blood vessels in the skin, causing them to dilate and worsen the appearance of facial redness, which over time, can accumulate and cause persistent redness that won’t go away.
Not only does alcohol affect all mucous membrane, excessive drinking, as we all know, can even cause liver damage; when the liver is not functioning properly, the skin and whites of the eyes may turn yellow, and various skin conditions such as itchiness, eczema and psoriasis may occur.
Alcohol is a commonly used ingredient in the cosmetic industry. It’s mainly used in fragrances for its ability to blend and disperse scent, but is also often used in skincare products.
The Good Alcohols For The Skin
Not all ingredients with the word ‘alcohol’ is bad. Many are safe and can actually benefit the skin. For instance, Benzyl Alcohol is a natural component of essential oils and an approved preservative under the COSMOS Organic Certification criteria that can inhibit bacterial reproduction, whereas Stearyl, Cetearyl & Cetyl Alcohol are derived from palm kernel and/or coconut oil, and are considered fatty-alcohol which have skin soothing and softening properties.
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The Bad Alcohols For The Skin
Alcohol in skincare products is often used to help with evaporation for a lighter, fresher and dry-to-touch sensation, but it is also this particular property that may irritate the skin. These drying alcohol usually appear as Alcohol, Alcohol Denat., Isopropyl Alcohol, Methanol and SD Alcohol in a product’s ingredient list. When used in high concentrations, they deteriorate the skin’s protective barrier, rendering it ineffective at keeping moisture in and bacteria out, while stimulating oil production. These all may lead to dryness, irritations, and breakouts.
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