What is alcohol in cosmetics?
The alcohol used in cosmetics is denatured alcohol (also called denatured ethanol) to alter the taste and avoid misuse.
In our products, it appears in the list of ingredients on the packaging, under the name ALCOHOL DENAT or ALCOHOL. Not to be confused with fatty alcohols (cetyl alcohol for example), which appear on the list of ingredients with the word ALCOHOL always preceded by a term ending in -yl.
Where does it come from?
Denatured alcohol is obtained by fermenting sugar starch (beet or sugar cane) or by synthesis. At L'Oréal, we do not use synthetic alcohol.
Why is it used?
Alcohol may be present in many categories of hair, cosmetic and hygiene products such as hair styling products, foundations, perfumes and deodorants. In cosmetics, alcohol is used for its high volatility (it disappears immediately after application), its drying, refreshing and antimicrobial properties. It facilitates the penetration of active ingredients into the superficial layers of the skin and promotes the deposit of ingredients on the skin or hair. For example, in make-up, it improves the deposit of foundation pigments on the skin. It is a very useful hydrolysing agent that helps dissolve certain ingredients.
Facilitates the penetration
Why is it questioned?
Denatured alcohol is sometimes perceived as irritating and drying.
- Because it evaporates rapidly, skin contact time with denatured alcohol is very short.
- We use it in our products in non-irritating concentrations and this is systematically checked in all the product categories concerned.
What is it used for in our products?
At L'Oréal, we do not use synthetic alcohol in our hair, cosmetics and hygiene products. The alcohol we use has a good environmental profile; it is sustainable, respects biodiversity and is not ecotoxic.
Used in almost all categories of our product, the quantity of alcohol in cosmetics varies according to the type of product concerned. For example, alcohol is the main ingredient in perfume and eau de toilette formulations.
At L'Oréal, we also use denatured alcohol in products certified as organic or natural for its antimicrobial properties, in association with the preservatives authorised by organic labels.