Other names: C16-18 alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol
What it is: moisturizer/emollient, texture enhancer
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.
The main benefits of cetearyl alcohol; however, are as a formula stabilizer.
It achieves this in 3 ways:
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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SourcesNational Center for Biotechnology Information. "PubChem Compound Summary for CID 62238, Cetostearyl alcohol" PubChem, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cetostearyl-alcohol. Accessed 6 April, 2021.