Discover the Secret Sauce: Fatty Alcohols in Beauty industry

Dive into the world of fatty alcohols and uncover their benefits in cosmetics. From moisturizing shampoos to luxurious creams, explore how these versatile ingredients can transform your skincare routine, leaving you with radiant and healthy-looking skin.

March 20, 2024

Raw materials for the cosmetic industry may look like a confusing tangle of unrecognizable scientific names, but they don't have to be a mystery anymore…

Amongst many, one such is Fatty Alcohols. Fatty alcohols are among the most commonly used ingredients in Personal Care and Home Care formulations.

One might think about what exactly are fatty alcohols? Fatty alcohols are versatile chemicals derived from palm oil, palm kernel oil, or mustard oil that offer themselves to a large range of applications. Fatty alcohols are usually high-molecular-weight, straight-chain primary alcohols, but can also range from as few as 4–6 carbons to as many as 22–26, derived from natural fats and oils. The precise chain length varies with the source.

To summarize, one can classify fatty alcohols under three categories:
A) Short Chain (< C6)
B) Medium Chain (C6 to C12)
C) Long Chain (> C12)

Since Long-chain fatty alcohols are the ones majorly used in cosmetics products, I have tried to explain and differentiate how each long-chain fatty alcohol can be beneficial for different applications.

Cetyl Alcohol and Cetostearyl Alcohol

Cetyl alcohol is used as a thickening agent and emulsifier to help keep products’ ingredients from separating. Because Cetyl alcohol melts at temperatures higher than the average human body temperature, it is useful in cosmetic products like lipsticks, helping lip color adhere to the skin. It is oilier than most other alcohols giving it a moisturizing quality; this is why it is also used in conditioners. It can make hair feel thicker and softer. This moisturizing quality especially makes it useful in moisturizing shampoos. It is also used as an opacifier in shampoos, i.e. to make them opaque and as a foam boosting and foam stabilizing agent. It is also used as a binding agent helping the various ingredients in many moisturizers, lotions and creams bind together, which helps enable the smooth application.

Cetyl and Stearyl Alcohols generally appear together in hair conditioners as co-surfactants, which help reduce the surface tension of water. Apart from providing lubrication in skin creams and hand lotions, the same is employed in industries to smoothen nuts, pins, and bolts of machines. Cetyl Stearyl alcohol is commonly known as Cetostearyl Alcohol.

Stearyl Alcohol: Stearyl alcohol functions as a thickener and stabilizes the amount of foaming in the conditioner. Conditioners with Stearyl alcohol are more viscous than those without.

Hope this would help you in selecting the right ingredient for your cosmetic formulation.

Disclaimer: The information contained above is for general guidance or matters of interest only. The application and impact laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information shared is accurate and has been obtained from personal interactions with industry experts as well as other secondary reliable sources.

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