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The Role of Benzyl Alcohol in Skincare

Benzyl alcohol is common in many kinds of skincare products, but it receives mixed reviews from skincare experts. The ingredient serves a preservative purpose in skincare, but with increasing pushes toward clean and minimal formulas, consumers are wary of its necessity.

What is Benzyl Alcohol?

Benzyl alcohol works as a preservative in skincare products, giving them longer shelf lives and extending their use. The ingredient is a replacement for another kind of contested preservative in skincare: parabens. In recent years, parabens have come under fire in the skincare community, with some people believing them to be toxic endocrine disruptors. While the research on the long-term health effects of topical parabens is limited, there has still been a shift toward alternatives including benzyl alcohol. Benzyl Alcohol also works as a solvent and antioxidant, meaning it helps to dissolve ingredients evenly throughout a product as well as stabilize them and prevent formula changes when stored.

How does Benzyl Alcohol affect the Skin?

Benzyl alcohol affects the skin indirectly through its effects on the product itself. As the alcohol provides stability and longer shelf life, it extends the use of your product. Additionally, benzyl alcohol is antibacterial and antifungal, which can keep your skincare product more sanitary even with daily use. Benzyl alcohol also has antioxidant properties which may work to protect your skin against free-radical damage. Finally, the alcohol decreases the viscosity of any product it's in, ensuring your application process is much smoother and the product can flow more easily.

Benzyl Alcohol in Skincare FAQ:

Is it safe to use Benzyl Alcohol?

Benzyl alcohol is safe for most people who do not have a contact allergy to it. People who are seeking skincare free from preservatives entirely should avoid benzyl alcohol, which is becoming a standard ingredient in many skincare product lines.

Does Benzyl Alcohol have a scent?

Benzyl Alcohol does have a naturally semi-sweet scent, that some people describe as faintly floral. It occurs naturally in some essential oils such as Ylang-Ylang and jasmine.

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