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Alcohol in cosmetics: Yes, or no?

23. 11. 2023 writer: Bára Čechová a vývojové oddělení

Do you wonder why alcohol is used in cosmetic products, what are its advantages or drawbacks, or do you want to know what about alcohol in Manufaktura cosmetics? Read what the long-time Manufaktura developer – Ing. Eva Horčíková - says about that.

Alcohol in cosmetics: Yes, or no?
Alcohol in cosmetics: Yes, or no?


Alcohol (i. e. denatured alcohol or ethanol in composition) contained in cosmetic products is becoming a controversial topic. Despite different opinions and answers we can safely say that some cosmetic formulae include it and it is definitely justifiable.

What are the Benefits of Using Alcohol in Cosmetics?

Alcohol contained in cosmetics is not harmful unless it is overused. However, the effect of alcohol on skin depends on its concentration in particular products as well as on the entire formula of a cosmetic product, on the content and interaction of other active substances. So, what is alcohol good for in cosmetics?

1. Alcohol has preservative and disinfectant properties

Alcohol used in cosmetics is an effective preservative. It prevents bacteria and fungi from growth, which can prolong durability of a product. Its disinfecting effects are used in hand sanitizers, if correctly concentrated.

2. Alcohol acts as a solvent

Alcohol helps dissolve some active substances used in products. It helps dissolve also perfume compositions or essential oils in fragrant preparations.

3. Alcohol contributes to matt looking skin

Alcohol is often used in cosmetic products that are intended for oily and acne-prone skin since it contributes to matt looking skin by removing excess sebum and cleansing the skin.

4. Alcohol dries and improves the symptoms of acne

In some cases, alcohol can help dry and disinfect pimples and acne. That is why it is often present in products intended for improving acne condition.

Alcohol used in cosmetics is an effective preservative

Myths and Possible Drawbacks of Using Alcohol in Cosmetics

Myths about alcohol used in cosmetic products are quite common and they often lead to a distorted picture of what effect alcohol has on the skin.

It is always important to take into account individual condition and a type of the skin and its specific needs. We should pay attention to reading product labels.

If you wonder whether products containing alcohol are suitable for your skin type, consult a dermatologist.

1. Does alcohol cause dehydration?

Using alcohol in formulae does not necessarily mean that it causes dehydration. Concentration, an overall formula of a product as well as a skin type always matter. Alcohol can be suitable in cleansing preparations intended for oily skin but only in maximum concentration of 20% or less. It should be used wisely in order to avoid excessive degreasing, i. e. removal of the skin barrier, and subsequent dehydration.

2. Can alcohol make sensitive skin more sensitive?

It is true that ethanol (alcohol) used in higher concentration can cause irritation and dry sensitive skin. So, it is important for people with sensitive skin to carefully select products containing alcohol and to prefer softer alternatives.

3. Is it true that all products containing alcohol are harmful?

Not all products containing alcohol are automatically harmful. Many cosmetic producers include alcohol in their preparations in moderate concentration and combine it with other substances to minimize potential negative impacts.

In What Type of Cosmetics can you Find Alcohol?

ETHANOL or ETHYLALKOHOL (listed also as denatured alcohol or simply alcohol) contained in formulae of cosmetic preparations is the most frequently used in fragrant products. What are they?

A hit among fragrances - Meadow Eau de Toilette in "home" and "handbag" packaging

♥ Eau de toilette (EdT)

♥ Eau de parfum (EdP)

♥ Eau de cologne (EdC)

♥ After shave lotion

♥ Aromatherapy products with natural essential oils, where ethanol acts as a solvent

♥ In oral care cosmetics

♥ In cleansing and caring cosmetics – particularly for acne-prone and oily skin

♥ In foot care products where ethanol acts mainly as a disinfecting and cooling ingredient, or as a solvent of other active substances

In natural, in particular certified cosmetics, ethanol is used also separately as a preservative. In this case its concentration must be more than 20% due to sufficient effectiveness. Or, it is used in combination with other antimicrobial ingredients.

Today we know that concentration of ethanol over 30% can irritate the skin.

In the past ethanol was frequently used in cleansing lotions because alcohol improves dissolution of greasy impurities and has a disinfectant effect. But today we know that concentration of alcohol over 20% excessively degreases the skin and concentration over 30% can even irritate it.

Maximum 20% ethanol concentration is recommended only in preparations intended for young oily and acne-prone skin. The products with such concentration of ethanol are definitely not suitable for dry and mature skin.

Nowadays, similar cleansing effects can be achieved by using lotions containing gentle surfactants.

Alcohol in Manufaktura Cosmetics

We use high-quality fermented alcohol, which is particularly denatured by a denaturant approved for cosmetic products, in the Manufaktura cosmetics. Alcohol (ethanol) acts as a solvent or disinfection in these preparations.

Beer cosmetics Manufaktura contains real beer Ferdinand - lager light Max 11 % brewed from first-class Czech ingredients.

Which Manufaktura Products Contain Alcohol?

Eau de toilette

Aroma roll-ons

SOS CLEAR Gel for Acne

♥ Herbal mouthwash

Beer Cosmetics and MEN Original after shave balms (the MEN Sensitive 2-in-1 after shave balm contains no alcohol)

Hand sanitizers and disinfectant spray (they are not cosmetic products but certified biocides)

In some products, such as facial serums and the rejuvenating booster with Daisy, the Meadow after party face packthe Apricot hand cream or the Rose hand elixir we use a complex of vitamins A, C, E, which contains a tiny amount of ethanol (tenths of a percent) and acts as a solvent improving absorption of vitamins into the skin.

In these cases, a minimum quantity of ethanol contained in the products is easily identifiable because the name alcohol is listed in the second half of ingredients (INCI). This negligible amount of ethanol used in these products does not have any impact when applied to the skin.

There are Various Types of Alcohol

Other types of alcohol occur in the formulae of our products, which some customers confuse with ethanol.

Some of our customers confuse Cetearyl Alcohol or Benzyl Alcohol with ethanol (alcohol). However, these two substances are very different in terms of properties and functions.

• Cetearyl Alcohol is waxy substance of natural origin. It is a mixture of fatty alcohols used e. g. in formulae of emulsions or conditioning products to increase viscosity and stabilization.

• Benzyl Alcohol is fragrant substance occurring is some essential oils and at the same time it is a preservative of natural cosmetics.

How about Alcohol in Manufaktura Wine and Beer Cosmetics?

The beer hair shampoo with a tradition since 2007 also won 2nd place in the Cosmetic Stars poll, in the Shampoos and Conditioners category!

Not even in case of products with genuine beer, which Beer Cosmetics contain, there is no need to worry about adverse impacts of ethanol on the skin.

In Manufaktura we use Ferdinand lager containing 4.7% of alcohol. So, if a product contains e. g. 10% of beer, it corresponds to only 0.47% of alcohol, which is negligible concentration with no adverse impact of ethanol on the skin.

In the Beer Cosmetics we use genuine Czech beer in the following formulae, which allow it:

Beer Cosmetics shower gel

Beer shampoosoft anti-dandruff shampoo and extra soft dream shampoo

Regenerating conditioner

Strengthening hair mask

From that list the Beer Shampoo has the highest content of beer, which is 10%. In other products (such as hand creamslip balms) you find special beer extract, which is alcohol-free.

In case of the Wine Cosmetics, we use the following ingredients: wine, grape seed oil or wine extract. The genuine Moravian wine of Pfeffer is included in the following cosmetic products:

Shower gel

Hair shampoo

♥ Hair conditioner

The alcohol content is max. 0.36 %, which is negligible concentration as well as in the products containing beer, so there is no need to worry – it has no effect when in contact with skin. The main beneficial effects of wine are based on active substances obtained from grape juice.

Tips for Alcohol-Free Cosmetics

Makeup Removing Alcohol-Free Care

The extra soft makeup remover for sensitive skin with daisy and oat beta-glucan will perfectly remove makeup and impurities from your skin and prepare it for further caring rituals.

The multifunctional CLEAR & HAPPY 3-in-1 Cleansing Gel, Scrub & Face Pack with fresh cucumber fragrance is completely essential for oily and acne-prone skin care. It guarantees perfect and deep skin cleansing, mitigates the symptoms of acne, hydrates and brightens the skin.

The MEADOW anti-pollution & detoxifying micellar water represents a modern and gentle way of skin cleansing. It contains a unique natural complex from Czech and Slovak meadow herbs and fruit, which effectively protects the skin and provides it with excellent detoxifying effects. Due to the content of gentle surfactants and carbohydrates it removes makeup and impurities from the skin

Alcohol-Free Face Creams

The gentle anti-pollution day face cream with Daisy and a unique cocktail of natural ingredients for sensitive skin provides long-lasting hydration, protection from adverse environmental impacts and prevents formation of wrinkles.

The Dead Sea soft moisturising day cream is suitable also for sensitive skin. It contains minerals from the Dead Sea, oat extract, hyaluronic acid and ceramides for hydration, rejuvenation and protection. Treat your skin to needed care and a smooth feel.

The MEADOW anti-pollution & anti-aging face fluid with a unique formula from Czech and Slovak meadow herbs has a detoxifying effect and effectively protects the skin from adverse environmental impacts. It promotes regeneration, hydration and slows down skin aging with a lifting effect.

The light moisturising CLEAR & HAPPY face cream for problematic skin significantly reduces acne, mattes too shiny skin and restores softness of dry skin. It creates a barrier protecting the skin from adverse environmental impacts.

Alcohol-Free Face Masks and Specialities

The Daisy cleansing clay face mask with modern pink clay, daisy and hyaluronic acid cannot be missing in your beauty ritual. Treat your skin to deep cleansing, brightening, hydration and an immediate lifting effect.

The exclusive Daisy facial oil elixir with allergen-free fragrance regenerates, nourishes, softens, hydrates the skin and prevents its aging. It is suitable for all types of skin, incl. the sensitive one.

The MEADOW anti-pollution & anti-aging face serum – discover moisturising face serum, which won 3rd place in the Cosmetic Stars 2022 survey in the category of serums, treatment and masks. It smooths, brightens and provides the skin with hydration and protects it perfectly from adverse environmental impacts. Miracle from wild flowers that you fall in love with.

The protective and regenerating MEADOW anti-pollution & anti-aging lip serum with a complex from Czech and Slovak herbs and fruit for beautiful and well-treated lips is ideal for life in the city.

Alcohol-Free Body and Hand Care

The MEADOW anti-pollution protective hand cream – protective, hydrating and regenerating MEADOW hand cream with shea butter and an anti-pollution complex from Czech and Slovak herbs and fruit for soft and smooth skin. Provide your hands with a protective shield full of nature and treat them to intense regeneration and protection.

The Rose nourishing, moisturising & anti-aging hand cream – nourishing, moisturising & anti-aging hand cream includes precious rose oil, shea butter, hyaluronic acid and a whole range of minerals from thermal spring salt. Perfect regeneration, long-lasting hydration, rejuvenation and effective protection for stressed hand skin.

The APRICOT moisturising body lotion for dry skin - moisturising and highly natural body lotion for dry skin with valuable natural oils, apricot extract and hyaluronic acid provides long-lasting hydration, softening, nourishment and regeneration.

The Dead Sea nourishing, moisturising and regenerating body butter for sensitive and dry skin contains highly natural ingredients that will provide your skin with immediate relief, nourishment and hydration. Delicate and fresh allergen-free unisex fragrance scents the skin amazingly.

Alcohol-Free Hair Care

The APRICOT regenerating shampoo for dry and damaged hair with apricot extract and wheat germs, almond oil and research-proven active XylishineTM intensely hydrates, repairs hair fibres, nourishes and strengthens.

The intense APRICOT nourishing mask for dry and damaged hair without silicones rescues tired, dried, brittle and weak hair! It restores natural beauty of hair due to the content of natural oils, apricot extract, wheat, peach and apple, creatine and research-proven active XylishineTM.

The Dead Sea extra soft shampoo for volume & hydration without SLES, with Dead Sea salt and oat extract for nourishment, hydration and volume. Ideal for fine, normal and oily hair and people with sensitive scalp.

The soft Dead Sea hair balm for regeneration & hydration without silicones restores strength and vitality of fragile and damaged hair and soothes sensitive and irritated scalp. The highly natural conditioner with regenerating salt from Dead Sea helps seal split ends, increases hair strength, elasticity and shine.

We wish you pleasant beauty moments from Manufaktura.

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