The Third Skin No-No: 3 Shocking Truths About Alcohol in Skin Care

The sad truth about alcohol in skin care—you apply moisturiser or toner after your facial cleanser only to get drier skin than before. This explains why skincare lovers are shunning away from this no-no ingredient. Before we dive in deeper, it is crucial to understand that not all types of alcohol are entirely bad for your skin.

The Good

Alcohol can cause irritation and damage your skin’s barrier, but there is a class of alcohol which does the total opposite. Fatty alcohols, derived from fatty acids of plant sources, can act as a moisturiser for the skin—it smoothes its outer layer. This good side of alcohol comes with names including cetyl (product thickener), stearyl (emollient to trap moisture in the skin), cetearyl (emulsifier), and propylene (humectant to draw in moisture to the skin).

Fatty alcohols are high in molecular weight, which explains why it makes a product thick and heavy in texture. They double as a moisturiser, attracting moisture to the skin and protecting it.

The Bad

However, there are downsides to this skincare ingredient. Non-fatty alcohols, or what we call simple alcohols, can have a dehydrating effect on the skin. These include denatured alcohol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol. They are lower in molecular weight and function as solvents. A product containing this alcohol feels lighter and evaporates quickly, leaving no trace of a greasy effect on the skin. It comes as no surprise that those with oily skin love products with non-fatty alcohol.

Unfortunately, simple alcohols have short term benefits and come with negative long term consequences. You should avoid products with this type of alcohol, if it appears in the first five ingredients on the skincare label. This just screams that it is not compatible with any skin type. Furthermore, it can deplete your skin’s barrier and weaken its ability to renew and replenish itself.

If your skin is oily, resist the temptation to lather alcohol-based products. As much as you think it controls the oil, it is only temporary and can cause bumps and large pores in the long run. And get this—non-fatty alcohols can increase oil production, prompting your skin to look more shiny than it already is!

Is Alcohol in Skin Care Safe?

Using too much of any type of alcohol can have its drawbacks. Non-fatty alcohol, which is considered “good”, is not all sunshine and roses. Take coconut or palm oil for example. They are obtained from vegetable sources and may still contain hints of seed or nut oils, which tend to irritate the skin or clog the pores. This just proves that not all plant-based products are completely harmless on the skin.

In a nutshell, if you are experiencing dryness or irritation, you might want to check your labels for solvent-type alcohols, such as isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol. On the other hand, if you are noticing clogged pores or breakouts, you want to consider excluding products with fatty alcohols, such as cetyl or stearyl alcohol, from your skincare regimen.

Better yet, save the hassle and avoid this toxic ingredient altogether. Go alcohol-free with the IRÉN Superfruit Booster Serums. Mix and match three of these customisable serums as they work synergistically to target your specific skin concerns.

Unlike other skincare products that contain alcohol to allow its active ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin, IRÉN replaces this potent ingredient with its own patented Ziplock Encapsulation Technology.

In fact, IRÉN is the only Japanese skincare brand that purges alcohol from its formulations completely.

From now till 30 November, enjoy the IRÉN Superfruit Booster Serums paired with the all-new IRÉN Start Afresh Daily Enzyme Powder Wash. Bundle up with the Start Afresh Daily Bundles; Start Afresh Daily Travel Companion, Start Afresh Daily Skin Series, and Start Afresh Daily Ultimate Set.

Start Afresh Daily Travel Companion

*Promotion is from 5 to 30 Nov, while stocks last.

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Purchase the IRÉN Enzyme Powder Wash and receive a FREE IUIGA Travel Refill Set. Snag 25% off with this bundle, while stocks last.

Start Afresh Daily Skin Series

*Promotion is from 5 to 30 Nov.

*Valid for online purchases only.

Pair the IRÉN Enzyme Powder Wash with three of your favourite Superfruit Booster Serums and save 20% off.

Start Afresh Daily Ultimate Set

*Promotion is from 5 to 30 Nov.

*Valid for online purchases only.

Or, complement the IRÉN Enzyme Powder Wash with the Skin Vaporizer and enjoy 50% off!

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