Cetearyl Alcohol for Skin: Is It Good for Your Skin?

Cetearyl Alcohol for Skin: Is It Good for Your Skin?

Cetearyl Alcohol for Skin: Is It Good for Your Skin?

Most of us tend to shy away from skincare options containing alcohol. After the alcohol-based toners of our youth, who could blame us? But what about cetearyl alcohol - is it good for your skin?

Whether you're a skincare enthusiast, or just want to take better care of your skin, it's always important to read the list of ingredients. This will help you avoid stuff that can be harsh on your skin. For example, you'll want to steer clear of synthetic fragrances, parabens, and phthalates.

With the influx of skinfluencers on YouTube and TikTok, you might also know about the dangers of alcohol in skincare. According to these individuals, alcohol can dry out your skin, making it more sensitive to the elements.

Many skincare products also utilise some form of cetearyl alcohol - but what does this mean for your skin? At Poko, we want the best for you and your skin. Therefore, we want to look at cetearyl alcohol as a skincare ingredient - and whether it's safe for your skin.

What exactly is cetearyl alcohol?

Cetearyl alcohol is simply a combination of cetyl and stearyl alcohol. Combined, these alcohols form a waxy solid - also known as a fatty alcohol. Unlike other forms of alcohol, cetearyl alcohol isn't water-soluble.

However, it dissolves beautifully in oils and other alcohols. Coupled with this, its physical qualities mean that it's an excellent emulsifier, adding a richness to your skincare products. Most skincare products use cetearyl alcohol as a humectant, as it can add a hydrating layer to your skin.

Historically, manufacturers sourced cetearyl alcohol from marine life - like whales and dolphins. However, more and more manufacturers are switching to cruelty-free forms of cetearyl alcohol. Therefore, they now source it from palm trees, or use a synthetic version.

So... is it safe?

If you haven't already, we'd recommend taking a gander at the ingredients in your favourite skincare products. It's more than likely that many of them contain cetearyl alcohol. In fact, most skin lotions, moisturisers, and hair products contain cetearyl alcohol.

However, does this mean that cetearyl alcohol is skin-safe, or is its reckoning yet to come? Well, we're happy to tell you that cetearyl alcohol in skincare is completely safe to use. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, you can safely use skincare products containing cetearyl alcohol!

In fact, we mentioned earlier that cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol. This means that it plays a very different role from other forms of alcohol in skincare. While other forms of alcohol can be harsh and drying, cetearyl alcohol is the polar opposite.

It's also a multi-functional skincare ingredient. It helps stabilise your favourite moisturiser, and give it that texture you love so much. Additionally, it also plays a role in achieving healthy, glowing skin - and this is how.

Why do skincare products contain cetearyl alcohol?

Moisturisers, lotions, hair products, and even your favourite SPF all contain cetearyl alcohol. But why is this the case? Well, cetearyl alcohol plays a multi-functional role in skin and hair care products.

Earlier, we mentioned that cetearyl alcohol helps to stabilise your skincare products. They also help your products maintain their texture and consistency. Without cetearyl alcohol, your favourite skincare product could lose its consistency or texture over time, or with exposure to the elements.

However, that isn't all. By now, you might have noticed that cetearyl alcohol is a popular ingredient in most moisturisers - for good reason. This is because it acts as an emulsifier, as it's oil-soluble. Therefore, cetearyl alcohol works to bind oil and water - a combination that can't work on its own.

Cetearyl alcohol also works as an emollient in your skincare products. This means that it helps keep your skin soft and hydrated. While this is common in many moisturisers, even if they don't contain cetearyl alcohol, this ingredient makes it that much better.

In fact, cetearyl alcohol also helps lock hydration into your skin. Therefore, it also helps reinforce your skin's natural moisture barrier. Adding cetearyl alcohol to your skincare routine could actually benefit your skin in the long run - especially if you have dehydrated or dry skin.

Does this mean all alcohols are safe to use?

We should really emphasise that in all its forms, cetearyl alcohol is safe to use. It can also appear on labels and lists under several different names. For example, look out for cetostearyl alcohol, C16-18 alcohol, and cetyl alcohol. All these are forms of cetearyl alcohol - and are therefore skin-safe!

However, other forms of alcohol might not be safe for use on your skin. We'd recommend that you stay away from products with sensitising or simple alcohols. These ingredients are extremely harsh on the skin, drying it out and affecting your natural moisture barrier.

Because of this, we'd recommend keeping an eye out for these ingredients in your skincare products:

  • Alcohol denat: Alcohol denat (or denatured alcohol) is often found in products marketed to people with oily skin. However, its results are only temporary, and it can often do more harm than good. Therefore, it's best to steer clear of products that feature this ingredient.
  • Methanol: This ingredient is sometimes found in bath and shower products. It's best to avoid methanol in your products, as it is extremely sensitising. Therefore, it could wear away at your natural moisture barrier, resulting in sensitive skin.

We'd recommend taking a look at your skincare products, and replacing ones that contain sensitising alcohols. While it might be tempting to use this - especially if you have oily skin - it's best to stay away from them. In fact, prolonged use of simple alcohols can result in extremely dry and flaky skin.

This could also contribute to a damaged or compromised moisture barrier, and increase your skin's sensitivity. Over time, this can result in premature signs of ageing, redness, and fine lines. Therefore, take a look at your skincare products, and consider replacing anything with sensitising alcohol!

Are there any side effects to using cetearyl alcohol?

We completely understand if you're worried about cetearyl alcohol and its effects on your skin. We've all been there - especially after the harsh, alcohol-saturated cleansers and toners of our youth. While the Cosmetic Ingredient Review affirms that cetearyl alcohol is safe to use, you might have some qualms about it.

The good news is that most of us can add cetearyl alcohol to our skincare routines with no problems. In fact, it's very likely that cetearyl alcohol is already a part of your skincare routine - given its popularity and widespread use.

However, if you have allergic contact dermatitis, keep an eye out! Research indicates that cetearyl alcohol could trigger an allergic reaction. While the probability here is minuscule, it's still quite possible.

Therefore, it's best to patch-test a product with cetearyl alcohol before going all the way and adding it to your skincare routine. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry - especially when it comes to your skin!

Is cetearyl alcohol vegan-friendly?

Earlier, we mentioned that manufacturers used to source cetearyl alcohol from marine life. However, the shift towards cleaner, cruelty-free beauty means that manufacturers have had to come up with alternatives. Due to this, animal-derived cetearyl alcohol is becoming more and more uncommon - and we couldn't be happier!

In fact, most manufacturers now source cetearyl alcohol from plant-based oils. These commonly include coconut and palm, but can also include soy. Furthermore, manufacturers can now opt for a cetearyl alcohol in synthetic forms.

Therefore, cetearyl alcohol is vegan, for the most part. However, we'd recommend checking up on the brand you're buying from - especially if you're partial to vegan-friendly skincare. This will help ensure that you're only using a cruelty-free form of cetearyl alcohol on your skin.

How can I add cetearyl alcohol to my skincare routine?

By now, we've established that cetearyl alcohol is a skincare staple - and that it doesn't harm your skin. Therefore, you might want to add it to your skincare routine - if you haven't already.

While cetearyl alcohol is increasingly popular in skincare, it isn't usually sold on its own, as a single-purpose ingredient. Therefore, to add it to your skincare routine, we'd recommend buying and using skincare products that already utilise this ingredient. By doing this, you'll be able to incorporate it seamlessly into your skincare routine.

However, this doesn't mean that you should buy the first product you come across with cetearyl alcohol on its ingredient list. Before making a purchase, browse the list of ingredients and research the skincare brand. After all, with so many facets to clean beauty, you'll want to make sure it meets all your requirements.

At Poko, we add vegan-friendly cetearyl alcohol to a selection of our products. Therefore, if you're looking to try out cetearyl alcohol for your skin, you've come to the right place! Why not try out these products?

For mature skin: our Regenerating Collagen Moisturiser

Infused with Matrixyl 3000, botanical oils, and CBD, our Regenerating Collagen Moisturiser is a treat for mature skin. It helps to diminish fine lines, while hydrating dry skin. Plus, the list of ingredients includes cetearyl alcohol, which acts as an emollient - keeping your skin moist and supple.


This addition also helps us achieve that signature moisturiser texture. It's lightweight, yet hydrating - the perfect cream in the fight against dry skin and wrinkles. Plus, it's a great way to add cetearyl alcohol to your skincare routine!

For dry and dehydrated skin: our Ultra Hydrating Moisturiser

Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and focus on hydration. After all, when our skin is hydrated, it can effectively absorb those serums and creams. Plus, with cooler months on their way, it's important to ensure that your moisture barrier is prepped and ready to go.


This is where a cetearyl alcohol-infused moisturiser can come in handy - like our Ultra Hydrating Moisturiser. It's also infused with a host of other hydrating ingredients: aloe vera juice, botanical oils, and oat silk. This selection helps reinforce your natural moisture barrier, giving you that healthy glow even in the winter!

For your body: try our balms!

At Poko, we carry three Recovery balms, infusing two with cetearyl alcohol. This helps maintain their luxurious, smooth texture. It also adds an extra hydrating layer, wherever you choose to apply it.

Soothe your skin with one of two options from our Recovery range. These include:

    • Cooling Balm: Our Recovery Cooling Balm contains a selection of natural ingredients to soothe aches, pains, and overworked muscles. It's perfect for some post-gym relaxation. It also contains cetearyl alcohol - so it keeps your skin moisturised while it works on your sore muscles.


    • Lemon & Ginger Balm: Our Recovery Lemon & Ginger Balm is an excellent way to soothe and relax your skin. Whether it needs a little post-workout TLC, or is in the middle of a backne breakout, this balm can help with relief. Plus, the addition of cetearyl alcohol helps banish ashy skin throughout cold, dry months.

So, is cetearyl alcohol good for your skin?

Yes, cetearyl alcohol is good for your skin - and even better for your skincare products. Many manufacturers add it to their skincare line because it helps maintain the product's texture. However, being a fatty alcohol, it can also play a role in hydrating your skin.

It's also a fairly popular skincare ingredient, due to the role it plays in maintaining product texture. Therefore, there are numerous ways to add it to your skincare routine. However, it's important to remember that skincare products can differ in terms of quality and purpose.

Therefore, before considering a product simply because it contains cetearyl alcohol, be sure to do your research. Look at the other ingredients on the list, and ensure that the skincare company lines up with your values. For example, if you're looking for clean, cruelty-free beauty, there are a multitude of options!

However, when in doubt, there's always the selection at Poko. While not all our options contain cetearyl alcohol, take some time to try out the options that do! Why not see what these products can do to hydrate your skin?

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