Shampoos, lotions, conditioners and much other skin or hair care products use Cetearyl alcohol as an ingredient. It is a chemical and it is not bad for your hair or skin. And, it is not like “regular alcohols.”
No health-conscious consumer skips reading the ingredients of a personal care product. It is good to make sure that the product does not contain harmful ingredients. This is the reason why the FDA has made it mandatory for manufacturers to list all the ingredients on the label of the product. This lets consumers know what they are putting on or in their bodies. You, the consumer, can make a safe decision.
It is a white, waxy ingredient used in cosmetic products. This substance is made from two fatty alcohols including stearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol. Both natural and synthetic versions of this alcohol are available. The natural sources include plants (like coconut and palm oil) and animals.
It is used in creams, hair products, skin lotions, and other personal care products. This ingredient is used to create thicker lotions, smoother creams, and stable foam products.
Like other fatty alcohols, it is also long-chain alcohol. Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol have 16 and 18 carbon atoms, respectively. So, the combination of both, that is Cetearyl alcohol contains 34 carbon atoms.
Cetearyl alcohol is also known by other names including:
- Alcohols, C1618
- (C16-C18) alkyl alcohol
- Cetostearyl alcohol
- C16-18 alcohols
- 1-octadecanoic, mixed with 1-hexadecanol
- Cetyl/stearyl alcohol
In addition to this fatty alcohol, lanolin, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and oleyl alcohol are also used in cosmetic products.
Uses Of Cetearyl Alcohol
This fatty alcohol plays a role in the prevention of separation of cream into liquid and oils. It also makes the product thicker and improves the ability to form foam. It is used in a wide range of products including:
- Skin lotions
- Skin creams
- Hair mousse
- Hair removal creams
- Hair dye
- Anti-frizz hair cream
You might have heard people saying that you should avoid any skin or hair care product that contains alcohol. However, it depends on the alcohol. Ethanol or rubbing alcohol and some other alcohol can be very drying. These alcohols can cause problems such as flaking, itching and skin peeling.
Due to their skin-tightening and fast-drying abilities, these alcohols are used in products such as hand sanitizers, astringents, and aftershave.
However, best quality cetearyl alcohol and other fatty alcohols have different effects on your skin and hair. The chemical structure of fatty alcohol is different. The alcohol group attached in Cetearyl alcohol is (-OH) which is attached to a long chain of fats. This is the reason why fatty alcohols can trap water. You get a soothing feel on your skin.
According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, Cetearyl alcohol and other fatty alcohols are safe. It has been found in clinical studies that it has no significant toxicity. It is non-mutagenic. Mutagenic is anything that is capable of changing your DNA. Changes in DNA can cause cancer and certain other diseases.
The FDA also finds that it causes no irritation to the skin. It is even allowed to be used in “alcohol-free” products. Cetearyl alcohol is in the list of safe and permitted food additives approved by the FDA. However, just like other skin care products, it also comes with a small risk of allergic reactions. However, the number of cases reported is negligible. It is very rare that Cetearyl alcohol used in cosmetics causes any problems.
It is an excellent ingredient for skin and hair care products. It does wonder when used on dry skin. Even if you have sensitive skin, it is safe for you.