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What is the difference between Cetearyl alcohol and other alcohols?

01/11/2018 by Charlotte

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To most people the word 'alcohol' means ethanol, i.e. the clear, colourless, volatile liquid that is found in alcoholic beverages, and which is produced by the fermentation of sugars with yeast. When ethanol is used in skin and hair care products it can have a drying effect, and also acts as a solvent enabling otherwise inactive substances to cross the skin/blood barrier and enter the body.

For these two reasons Green People completely avoids the use of ethanol in its personal care products.

What is an alcohol?

In chemistry terms, the word 'alcohol' is used to describe any compound which contains an Oxygen/Hydrogen pairing (-OH group) at one end of its molecule. Such compounds are very common in nature, and their names often end in the letters 'ol'. Examples of such alcohols include tocopherol (Vitamin E), retinol (Vitamin A) and cholesterol. These alcohols are often thick oils or solid fats, and many are essential for human health, e.g. the fat soluble vitamins.

Cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol

Another group of alcohols found in nature are the fatty alcohols, which are derived from saturated vegetable fats such as coconut oil and palm oil. These have the appearance of solid white fatty waxes and are beneficial to both skin and hair, containing fatty acids that are highly compatible with human cell physiology. Examples include Cetyl alcohol and Cetearyl alcohol, the latter of which we use in our hair conditioners for its nourishing and emollient properties.

As the above examples hopefully illustrate, many different compounds make up the group known as 'alcohols', and different alcohols possess widely differing properties. Some alcohols can have potentially harmful effects (i.e. ethanol) and must be used with caution in personal care products, whereas others (i.e. cetearyl alcohol) are beneficial and are used as very effective nourishing and conditioning agents.

A selection of our gentle, organic skin care products:

Gentle Cleanse & Make-up Remover 150ml

Gentle Cleanse & Make-up Remover 150ml

Soothing cleanser & make-up remover for all skin types

Vita Min Fix 50ml

Vita Min Fix 24-Hour Cream 50ml

A 24-hour anti-ageing moisturiser to boost skin hydration and reduce wrinkles

Rejuvenating Eye Cream 10ml

Rejuvenating Eye Cream 10ml

A soothing anti-ageing eye cream to reduce wrinkles and nourish delicate skin

Day Solution Cream SPF15 50ml

Day Solution Cream SPF15 50ml

An essential skin defence moisturiser with SPF15 UV protection


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