Cetearyl Alcohol is today's focus in our series of What On Earth Is This? Explaining the ingredients found in cosmetics and skincare products.
Commonly used in a wide range of products, cetearyl alcohol stabilizes ingredients in lipsticks, lotions, body butters, hair conditioners (rinse and leave-in), face creams and more while performing as a thickener and emulsifier. Cetearyl alcohol was first found in sperm whales and is now derived from the fatty acids of coconut and palm oil. Once misinterpreted for being a drying alcohol like ethanol and rubbing alcohol, cetearyl alcohol provides conditioning benefits for the skin and hair.
Cetearyl Alcohol occurs during the saponification process of sodium hydroxide. During the process the oils are bound and the finished product is the fatty acid alcohol we call cetearyl alcohol. There are two additional versions of cetearly alcohol called cetostearyl alcohol and cetylstearyl alcohol.
Cetearyl alcohol is approved by the FDA as long as it is plant-derived.