Is Alcohol really bad for the skin?

ALCOHOL- one of the "bad" guys of the skin care world. In fact, it gets as much hate as Paraben in my opinion. But why is it still present in a lot of skin care products? Turns out, Alcohol is not as inherently bad as some claim it to be; I see a lot of blogs and websites that are quick to shame and warn against alcohol without thorough discussion that's why everyone just wants this ingredient out of their skin care.

First, let's discuss why is Alcohol beneficial to skin care.

Alcohol serves the following purpose in skin care:

1. As an antiseptic- most anti- acne toners need alcohol because it helps disinfect the skin and kill acne- causing bacteria.
2. As a preservative- the disinfectant property of alcohol helps preserve the integrity of skin care longer by keeping bacteria at bay.
3. As a thinning agent- this makes the consistency of skin care products easier to apply.
4. As a buffer- the acidic nature of alcohol helps balance the pH of the product and the skin.
5. As a stabilizer- prevents substances from separating and filters unwanted reaction.
6. As an emulsifier- allows two substances to mix together.

Next, let's go to the drawbacks of using alcohol in skin care:

1. It drys up the skin
2. In relation to number 1, it causes accelerated aging
3. It disrupts skin's pH balance
4. It destroys even fresh skin in order for products to penetrate skin more effectively, which will cause damage in the long run.

As you can see, the benefits of alcohol outweigh the drawbacks. We can narrow down the negative effects of alcohol to the following main causes:

1. You are using a bad kind of alcohol 
2. You are using a formula with a high concentration of alcohol 
3. You are using a formula with lack of ingredients that balance out the effects of alcohol

That said, it's time for Alcohol 101! Let's go to the different kinds of alcohol:

1. SIMPLE ALCOHOL- these are the bad alcohols and are mostly present in drugstore toners and astringents. Astringents usually have a very strong concentration of these simple alcohols that's why dermatologists would advise against consistent usage. 

Simple Alcohols are ALCOHOL DENATURED (Alcohol Denat.; SD Alcohol), METHANOL, and ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL.

2. FATTY ALCOHOLS- The good alcohol. It is categorized as an emollient type of alcohol. 


3. AROMATIC ALCOHOLS- Or "accessory alcohols" because they're a fragrance fixative. It is treated not only as fragrance, but also as preservative. BENZYL ALCOHOL is the most common one. However, this type of alcohol can be derived from an essential oil, which can cause irritation in sensitive skin types.

Having said these, you don't really have to worry about alcohol in skin care because it serves a lot of benefits, plus not all alcohols are the same. You just have to choose the good ones and also the best formulas.

Speaking of the best formulas, here are two tips on how to choose a gentler and better alcohol- infused skin care product:


- The ingredients label shows the order of ingredients from the highest to the lowest concentration. If Alcohol is not part of the first five, then you're good to go.


- Hydrating ingredients like Aloe Barbadensis extract, Cucumber extract, Rosa Damascena extract, Glycerin, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, and plant oil extracts will counter the damaging effects of alcohol in skin care.

I'm sure you want to know my recommended toners so here's my quick 5:

There! I hope by this part, you're not that afraid of alcohol anymore. All it takes is a little clarification! You know, I can liken Alcohol to friends: Not all is good for you so CHOOSE WISELY! ;)

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14 Lovely Thoughts

  1. I'm checking out my Rire toner anyway, I avoid alcohol eventhough I have oily skin because whenever I use alcohol loaded toner I get oilier.

  2. Wow! I am amazed how you explain the balance of using products with Alcohol. Ang galing & Astig! Nakakataba ng utak girl. This is something that I will definitely share with my friends. Thank you for this. Hope to see you soon :)

  3. This is great! I tend to veer away from any skin care products that has 'alcohol' in the ingredients. Knowing that there is a 'good alcohol' will broaden my options in choosing a toner. Thank you!

  4. Wow! This is very informative and helpful.I didn't know about this. I'll list down the types of alcohol so I can check the labels next time when purchasing a toner.

  5. I'm in awe of this article! Didn't know there's such a thing like good and bad alcohol. Really, thanks for clarifying! I don't really mind if my cleansers and toners contain alcohol but having you explained everything clear, might as well choose what would really benefit my skin.
    I also love how you liken alcohol to friends. That's pretty witty of you :)

  6. This is certainly enlightening. I do prefer having alcohols in my toner because I have oiyl skin.. But now I realized that I have the bad alcohols and not the good ones..and it's listed as one of the first five ingredients..ooops!

  7. aahhh, ganun pala..kelangan lang ng balanse sa pag-apply ng mga gnyan sa mukha..pero d naman na alone lang yan ang nilalagay na ngyon eh, meron nang moisturizers dba, that kind of cream sa mukha na for me kasi nababalanse ang tapang ng nalagay kong toner or cleanser sa mukha ko. Basa tlga bago gumamit para alam natin ung saktong kelangang iapply sa mukha natin.

  8. This is realLy helpful, papaltan ko na toner ko😘

  9. Thank u Ms. Martha for sharing this very informative blog about the usage of alcohol in the skin, now I know what toner I'm gonna use and I will the label properly. Not all alcohol is bad pla, I agree choose wisely!

  10. Thank you for this post. It;s honestly hard for me to find content types like this one. It definitely helps a lot. I totally agree with you on this. I don't think alcohol is 100% bad HAHAHA I remember using alcohol to cure my zits when I was a freshman in college. I know that doesn't work for some people HAHAHA but I learned how to use it and further improve my knowledge on alcohol later on in life wow naks HAHAHAHA

  11. This is very informative Ms. M! Now we know this! Di na ko matatakot sa alcohol for my skin care. Love you foreves talaga!!!

  12. Amazing information, I love this blog posts and I hope there are more blogs to come like this. And i would definitely look into the ingredients of my toners LOL

  13. This is really informative! For the past few months, I have been disregarding products with alcohol when I am looking at Watsons or Supermarket. Thank you so much for this information.

  14. Hi! How about yung ethyl alcohol? Celeteque acne solutions oil control toner has ethyl alcohol 😊


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