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Cetyl alcohol - One of the most confusing ingredients?

Written by Kelly Duncan


Posted on 19 June 2018

It says alcohol in your products? Then Natural Elements isn’t natural? Let’s clear up the confusion by explaining how Cetyl alcohol is actually a very natural ingredient and it doesn’t contain alcohol.

We all know Alcohols on the skin can be extremely drying and damaging to your cells, hence why we don’t include them in our formulations.

So, what is it? Cetearyl Alcohol is a wax ingredient found in plants, like Coconut and Palm oils. It works as an emollient, emulsifier, thickener and carrying agent for other ingredients contained in a cosmetic solution.

But, here’s where it gets confusing, cetyl alcohol comes in many varieties…

So, here’s a breakdown on what to look for when It comes to this ingredient in your products:

  • Cetyl alcohol (the one we use) - comes from vegetable or botanical source like coconut.
  • Stearyl alcohol – comes from a synthetic source, usually mineral based. It's usually cheaper to use in formulations over Cetyl alcohol that’s why many brands will use it over traditional Cetyl. It can also come from sperm whale oil…gross!
  • Cetearyl alcohol – is a mixture of both cetyl and stearyl alcohols. Again, blending both together will save on costs when a company adds to the formulation.

Here are the top ones to avoid which are true alcohols, they’ll dry and prematurely age your skin!

  • Ethanol
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Methanol
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol



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