A lot of you ask me why I choose alcohol-free skincare and makeup products. I wanted to write this blog post to explain why I gave away luxury skincare and makeup in order to reverse the effects of alcohol on my skin. Let’s start by defining what type of alcohol I am referring to. These alcohols are labeled as alcohol denat. (denaturated alcohol), alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol. Fragrance or perfume also means alcohol. These alcohols make skin feel tighter immediately, sometimes they tingle, and they mattify the skin upon contact. They also smell like alcohol but only if you are not used to using alcohol you can sense the smell. You grow accustomed to it with time or the fragrance disguises it. This happens to me now when brands send me products or if I test something at Sephora with alcohol. I don’t even have to read the label and I know alcohol is present.
What does it do?
The effects of alcohol on the skin are simply put catastrophic. No, you won’t get a rash, or break-out the next day or even within a month, but you will start seeing the signs soon after that if not before the one-month mark. What does it do, is the question. It damages the skin barrier. It gets absorbed by the skin so quickly and disrupts the balance of oil production. It’s ironic because it’s used in oily-skin targeted products, exactly because it mattifies the skin, but that effect wreaks havoc in the underlayers of the skin. Using alcohol, day after day in multiple skincare products and makeup products, will actually push the skin to produce even more oil because it’s drying out from the inside. It’s trying to balance itself, but the alcohol keeps taking away all the natural oils. It’s a vicious cycle.
Brands claim that alcohol helps other ingredients in skincare products penetrate the skin surface, but there are other ingredients that can aid in this purpose that are non-damaging to the skin barrier. There is no reason why skincare products should contain alcohol or fragrance. There are so many great alternatives out there! Alcohol is actually aiding the skin to age faster, as it’s depleting its natural healing properties. It’s sad and you might want to brush off the idea, but it’s true.
What it did to me
My personal experience with alcohol in skincare and makeup products was terrifying. Because I have oily skin, I always went for the oil-free, mattifying products, but as you might guess, their main ingredient was alcohol. Then when I did my makeup I would use a mattifying primer with alcohol, and a long-wearing foundation that’s also matte with more alcohol. Then I would top it all off with a mattifying finishing spray, with alcohol as the 1st ingredient. Doesn’t that sound tragic? The more I targeted my oily skin with oily skin type appropriate products, the more acne, cysts, and irritation my skin would present. It does matter what you put on the skin. Especially if you are using products with alcohol which are eating away the skin’s self-defense mechanism every step of your routine. I cut out alcohol and fragrance in all products back in August and I’ve seen a tremendous difference in how my skin behaves. Yes, I still get hormonal break-outs. But they heal so fast, and my scars don’t stay behind for months and months. Giant painful cysts? I might get a couple around that time of the month, but they come to a point within a couple of days and dry out on their own, and leave a minimal mark behind that is gone within a few weeks. I used to get purple marks that would linger for months and never go away. My skin was lifeless and always dehydrated. Now there is a glow, it feels smooth and plump. I look at photos of myself from 2-3 years ago and I surely look younger and fresh-faced now.
Wait, there are good alcohols?
Now, let’s not banish everything that reads with the word alcohol next to it. There are actually good alcohols, they’re fatty alcohols. Some of these fatty alcohols used in skincare are cetearyl, cetyl, and stearyl alcohol. These are moisturizing alcohols that aid in replenishing moisture in the skin.
Some of your favorite products might contain alcohol. I’m not suggesting you throw everything out. I just wanted to put this out there for those of you who think alcohol could be the culprit of your skin’s sensitivity or irritation. I wanted to draw attention to the subject and hopefully bring some awareness. Brands are definitely trying to create alcohol and fragrance-free products, but a lot of these natural brands are adding potential irritants such as essential oils. But that’s a conversation for a different post perhaps. I hope this was useful and informative for some of you!