Preservatives like alcohol tend to get a bad rap whenever people see them on the labels of skincare ingredients. But the truth is these play a valuable role in keeping products safe and effective throughout their shelf life. Today, we’ll be talking about benzyl alcohol and what it does for your favorite products.
Fast Facts About Benzyl Alcohol
Benzyl alcohol is an organic aromatic alcohol that naturally occurs in fruits, teas, and flowers such as jasmine, hyacinth, and ylang-ylang. It can also be synthetically produced by hydrolyzing benzyl chloride using sodium hydroxide. It comes in the form of a colorless liquid and it has a slightly sweet and floral scent.
It serves as a preservative to extend the shelf life of skincare products as well as a solvent and an antioxidant to stabilize and dissolve ingredients used in a formulation. As a multifunctional ingredient, it is often used in a wide variety of personal care products such as moisturizers, lip balms, face washes, and color cosmetics.
Because of its ability to prevent microorganisms from growing in products, it is commonly used as a replacement for parabens as a preservative. It can be safely missed with other skincare ingredients and isn’t likely to cause adverse effects to formulas.
Benefits of Benzyl Alcohol in Skin Care Products
Benzyl alcohol preserves products due to its ability to kill microbes. It allows products to be packed in larger containers designed for multiple uses. It also stabilizes formulas and prevents the oxidative breakdown of a product. This allows products to work effectively for a longer period.
It also acts as a solvent to help dissolve ingredients in a product’s formula while also improving the viscosity of products. Moreover, it imparts a slightly sweet scent to products.
This aromatic alcohol also has antioxidant properties which makes it effective as a protectant against free radical damage.
Risks Associated with Benzyl Alcohol
Generally, benzyl alcohol is generally safe to use by anyone who isn’t allergic to it. It can be used on a daily basis if you’re not sensitive to it or if it is used in low concentrations in a product.
While it can cause itching and redness for some people and toxicity is possible with this ingredient if it is overused, the risks are still low. It is approved by the FDA and is deemed safe at concentrations not exceeding 5 percent in products.