Cetearyl Alcohol - What's in my skincare products? - Rach Royalty

Cetearyl Alcohol - What's in my skincare products? - Rach Royalty

If you’re anything like us you check the ingredients of your skincare products before purchasing. But.. What do you do when you see an ingredient listed and you have no clue what it is? In this series “What’s in my skincare products?” we’ll help you with that. 

Hey selfcare besties! 

Thanks for tuning in to another edition of Rach Royalty Weekly. Last week we gave you a basic overview of how to read your skincare product labels and today we’re giving you the scoop on the ingredient Cetearyl Alcohol! Let’s go!

What is Cetearyl Alcohol?

Cetearyl alcohol is a white, waxy solid whose two major components are: cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. Cetearyl, cetyl and stearyl alcohol are all fatty alcohols and are widely used in lotions and creams. 

I thought alcohols cause your skin to be dry?

  • Yes, but no. 
  • There are three different types of alcohol used in skincare products: 
  • Simple alcohols 
  • Such as methanol & ethanol - used for antibacterial properties. May also be used as a solvent for other ingredients in the formula. 
      1. Alcohols such as ethanol that are used in rubbing alcohol are indeed drying. They harm your skin’s protective surface, negatively impacts dry skin (by making it even drier!) and strips your skin of the vital substances that it needs. Yikes!
      2. However, products such as Hand Sanitizer Sprays are necessary (especially in a pandemic) to kill germs and other bacteria. After using a Hand Sanitizer Spray it is best practice to follow up with a moisturizing cream to restore moisture to the skin.
        1. It is noteworthy that If simple alcohols are combined with the right ingredients in the proper ratios they may be safe to use on the skin as it will aid in ingredient delivery. 

  • Fatty alcohols 
  • Unlike simple alcohols like ethanol, fatty alcohols have emollient and occlusive properties. This helps to keep the skin hydrated.

    What's the difference between emollients and occlusives? 

  • Emollients soften and smooth the skin
  • Occlusives are moisturizing agents that work by forming a protective layer on the surface of the skin to prevent moisture loss.  

  • Aromatic alcohols
  • These are those such as benzyl alcohol and components of essential oil concentrations. These are typically found in scented products and may cause irritation for those with sensitive skin. Consequently, those with sensitive skin usually use fragrance-free products. 

    So.. Fatty Alcohols are good?

    • Typically, yes. 
    • Skincare products are made up of a variety of ingredients in different percentages. In our last blog we mentioned that products are listed from highest to lowest concentration in the ingredient list. You may use the position of different ingredients in the ingredient list to determine if that specific ingredient at that specific concentration is suitable for your skin.
      • Eg. If you are seeking an oil based product and find an ingredient with water listed as the first ingredient that means that of all the ingredients, water has the highest concentration. On that basis you may wish to choose another product.
      • Do bear in mind that this is not a hard and fast rule as each ingredient will react differently based on the composition of the formula in its entirety. 
      • If you’re still unsure consult your dermatologist.

    In conclusion..

    • The composition of the cosmetic formulation determines how individual ingredients will react.
    • Simple alcohols may be drying to the skin while fatty alcohols hydrate the skin.
    • Fatty alcohols act as emollients (softens & smooths) and occlusives (moisturizing agents that prevent moisture loss) which keep the skin hydrated.

    Thanks for tuning in to this week’s edition of Rach Royalty Weekly. We’ll be here, same time (4PM) , same place (on this blog), next week Wednesday! 

    Until next time, keep #GlowingLikeRoyalty 🥂


    Royalty References

    https://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredients/cetearyl-alcohol/, accessed on 11 February 2022.

    https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-32603/cetyl-alcohol-topical/details, accessed on 11 February 2022.

    https://connect.in-cosmetics.com/ingredients/the-importance-of-fatty-alcohols-in-personal-care-ingredients/, accessed on 11 February 2022.
    Back to blog


    Suuuper informative, thanks so much for sharing!


    Very informative- great blog looking forward to the next !


    Leave a comment