What is Alcohol Denat?

Alcohol Denat chemical composition
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When talking about controversial ingredients,  the subject of alcohol is sure to start a fiery debate between skincare experts. We’ve all heard about the discussion on why there’s silicone in our hand cream, but what about alcohol denat in skincare products?

Alcohol denat — also called denatured alcohol or SD alcohol is simply ethanol mixed with some other ingredients. This alcohol is denatured, and the other components that are added to it make it unfit for human consumption.

It is, however, useful for commercial purposes. A lot of household products contain this compound as written on their ingredients list. Some of these products include hand sanitizers, paint removers, pharmaceuticals, antiseptics, cleaning products, etc. It is extremely effective at removing germs and harmful bacteria. This is why SD alcohol is an ingredient in cleaning products.

And just like every other alcohol, denatured alcohol is flammable.

Some people might even wonder if it is safe to use around the house. Yes it is, as long as you do not ingest it. Denatured alcohol is about double the alcoholic property of the regular liquor we take, and a glass of it can kill a person.

Thankfully, it is brewed in such a way that it will not even appeal to anyone to drink it. It smells and tastes terrible! And even if you endure the foul smell and manage to take a sip, you will eventually spit it out.

Incidentally, some of the ingredients added during the denaturing process include methanol, dye, methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, and denatonium. These are all harmful substances and must not be ingested.

Aside from its usefulness around the house, SD alcohol is also added to skincare and cosmetics products. 

Why Is Alcohol Denat Used In Skincare?

While it is common knowledge that alcohol is a drying agent, it is also essential to know that distilling alcohol is different. People with oily skin use it to neutralize their skin oil and also for smooth skin.

Let us see some of the reasons why denatured alcohol features in some skincare products:

Unlike alpha hydroxy acids and polyhydroxy acids, alcohol denat is not an active ingredient in most skincare products.  It is used mainly for its formulation benefits rather than what it does itself.

Alcohol denat helps skincare products spread more easily and evenly. It also acts as a solvent — an ingredient that dissolves other substances in the formula.

Here are other characteristics of alcohol denat:

  • It acts as a preservative.
  • It reduces skin oil and grease.
  • It has a low molecular weight, which evaporates on time and makes the other ingredients get absorbed quickly and get dried faster. 
  • Alcohol denat works well and is compatible with most cosmetic ingredients.
  • It makes creamy products lighter in weight and smoother to touch. It is used as a thinner to enhance its handling.
  • It prevents bacterial growth on the skin. It is an excellent anti-bacterial and is one of the reasons it is used in hand sanitizers.
  • It also helps in treating blemishes.
  • It is also an anti-foaming agent. It prevents skincare products from foaming when they are shaken together. 

Is Alcohol Denat Good Or Bad?

The answer to this question is neither a simple yes nor a no. The manner and quantity with which you apply the denatured alcohol will determine if it is good or bad. 

Our discussion above shows that alcohol denat can be harmful to the skin in large quantities.

Nonetheless, denatured alcohol is not always dangerous, but you have to be very careful with its application. Too much of it can lead to dehydrated skin. It can also cause skin irritation, redness, and breakouts.

Also, your skin type largely affects the outcome of alcohol denat on your skin. If you have oily skin, you might not have any side effects. Otherwise, it is advisable to use it in very little quantity or stay away from it if possible. People with sensitive skin must be careful too.

To prevent complications, consult a dermatologist first to determine your skin type and the dose of alcohol denat that is appropriate for your skin.