Ingredient Highlight: Cetearyl Alcohol – Graydon Skincare Ingredient Highlight: Cetearyl Alcohol
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Ingredient Highlight: Cetearyl Alcohol

Ingredient Highlight: Cetearyl Alcohol

Other names: C16-18 alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol

What it is: moisturizer/emollient, texture enhancer

You can find it in: Berry Rich, Phyto Clear, Skin Stuff, Putty, Face Glow, Aloe Milk Cleanser, All Over Face + Body Lotion, Matcha Mint Shampoo, Matcha Mint Hair Smoothie

Cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that’s commonly used in cosmetic products. It’s a mixture of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, which are fatty alcohols that naturally occur in some plants, such as palm or coconut, and animals. The cetearyl alcohol we use is plant derived. 

So what makes cetearyl alcohol such a wonderful skincare ingredient? 

For one, it’s a well-known moisturizing agent. To be more specific, it’s an emollient, meaning it helps to smooth and soften your skin. As a result, you can usually find it in products like lotions and creams. Unlike drying alcohols, such as ethanol or denatured alcohol, cetearyl alcohol has a long oil-soluble tail in its structure, making it non-drying and non-irritating to the skin.

A young woman applying All Over Face + Body Lotion to her arm while sitting in bed

The main benefits of cetearyl alcohol; however, are as a formula stabilizer.

It achieves this in 3 ways:

  • Prevents separation of the formula: Cetearyl alcohol is an emulsifier. This means it helps water and oil to blend together nicely and form a smooth, uniform mixture. Without an emulsifier, your fav cream or lotion would separate into a watery part and an oily part.

  • Encourages even application: As an emulsifier, cetearyl alcohol also helps products to go on your skin in a lovely, even layer. This is important because even application of a product increases its overall effectiveness. 

  • Controls viscosity: Cetearyl alcohol is also used in cosmetic products as a thickener, which helps to give lotions and creams a more luxurious texture and feel.
  • So, who is it good for?

    If your skin is on the drier side with a rough texture, you’ll definitely benefit from cetearyl alcohol in your skincare products. When you see this ingredient listed on your products, you'll now understand its significance within the formulation.


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    National Center for Biotechnology Information. "PubChem Compound Summary for CID 62238, Cetostearyl alcohol" PubChem, Accessed 6 April, 2021.