Alcohol is a Natural Preservative in Cosmetics

Alcohol is a Natural Preservative in Cosmetics

Alcohol is a Natural Preservative in Cosmetics

Alcohol has been used for a long time as a natural preservative. High proof food-grade alcohol is used in natural cosmetics in the preservative system to preserve cosmetics from creams, lotions, serums, shampoos and hair conditioners.

Is Alcohol Drying to the Skin?

Clients, students and customers are always asking me, isn’t alcohol drying to the skin? Pure food-grade alcohol applied directly to the skin is drying on the skin but not when it is combined with nutrient rich ingredients. Synthetic alcohol is confused with food-grade alcohol and performs differently on the skin. Synthetic alcohol also known as isopropyl alcohol is drying to the skin. I have used organic food-grade alcohol for over 10 years to effectively preserve natural cosmetic formulations. In my test groups, they always favored facial creams and moisturizers preserved with alcohol over the facial creams and moisturizers using a different preservative system. The comments were similar stating the product went into their skin quickly with no oil residue and the skin immediately felt soft, moisturized and hydrated.

Alcohol is Beneficial to the Skin

Pure food-grade alcohol combined with nutrient rich plant oils, herbs and plant emulsifiers acts as a carrier and delivers these skin beautifying nutrients immediately into the skin. It works as a wonderful delivery system for the natural cosmetic product.

Attention and care is imperative to preserve natural cosmetic formulations with high proof food-grade alcohol. A high proof alcohol must be used. I’ve used organic grain, sugar and grape alcohol. During the manufacturing process it is imperative to prevent evaporation of the alcohol and the container must be one that is minimally exposed to air.

I formulated the Organic Facial Cream and demonstrated how to preserve using alcohol in the Professional Natural Skin Care Product Making Course.

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joan morais Joan Morais is a natural cosmetic formulator, instructor, author and the owner of Joan Morais Naturals. Joan assists product makers on how to make high quality, stable and effective natural body, hair and skin care products for personal use and a product making business.


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  • When adding ethanol to a body cream abd replacing the water w/ hydrosol would I need another preservative other than ethanol?

  • In my country, we make home made alcohol to drink. Can I add that alcohol as a preservative? I come from Nepal

  • Thank you so much for this information! in what percentage should the grain or grape or sugar high proof alcohol be used? Thanks again!

  • Very nteresting article thank you. I’ve recently started making my own skin cream using oils, water, aloe vera, emulsifying wax, essential oild etc.

    I’d like to add alcohol as a preservative. Can I use isopropyl alcohol? I have this for other uses in my workshop and hope I can use it instead of grain alcohol (I’m in the UK and don’t know if we even have grain alcohol here!)

    If it’s ok to use what percentage should I add, in relation to the weight of the completed product? WOul 10% be enough or should I add more? (I’m not starting a business here, just doing this for myself out of interest and to reduce my use of plastic tubes!)

    Hope you don’t mind me asking and that you might be ably to help.

    If this is OK to use

    • Hello Sarah,
      No you cannot use isopropyl alcohol as a preservative in skin care or hair care formulations. It doesn’t have to be grain alcohol, but high proof alcohol, at least 190 proof.

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