Denatured Alcohol – what is it and why is it used in cosmetics.

What is Denatured Alcohol?

Denatured alcohol, also called methylated spirits or denatured rectified spirit, is ethanol or isopropyl alcohols that have additives to make them poisonous, bad tasting, foul smelling or nauseating, to discourage recreational consumption.

Denatured alcohol is used as a solvent and as fuel for alcohol burners and camping stoves. Because of the diversity of industrial uses for denatured alcohol, hundreds of additives and denaturing methods have been used. The main additive to render an alcohol undrinkable has traditionally been 10% methanol, giving rise to the term “methylated spirits” but a variety of other additives exist including the addition of some essential oils.

Why denatured an alcohol?

The 2 main reasons alcohol is denatured in the US and other countries is for, – you guessed it – tax purposes. Drinkable alcohol is taxed with high profit margins towards the government. The second equally important reason? to protect the health of the consumer; drinking beverages with extremely high alcohol content can be harmful and even fatal.

Denaturing alcohol does not chemically alter the ethanol molecule. Rather, the ethanol is mixed with other chemicals to form an undrinkable solution.

To protect alcohol tax revenue in the United States, all preparations classified as Rubbing Alcohols (defined as those containing ethanol or isopropyl alcohol) must have poisonous or bad tasting additives to limit human consumption in accordance with the requirements of the US Treasury Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Most ethanol or alcohol that is denatured (rendered undrinkable) is because it has a very high unsafe to consume alcohol content (70% – 95% otherwise known as 140 proof and 190 proof respectively). Vodka is usually 80-90 proof (40%-45% alcohol).

Drinking high proof alcohol can render the consumer blind or dead.

Why is Alcohol or Ethanol used in cosmetics?

Ethanol, has many uses, denatured or in its pure form. Ethanol is used extensively as a solvent in the manufacture of varnishes and perfumes; as a preservative for biological specimens; in the preparation of essences and flavorings; in many medicines and drugs; as a disinfectant and in tinctures; and as a fuel and gasoline additive.

It’s also a well known anti-bacterial, used widely in medical applications, to clean and disinfect wounds. Rubbing Alcohol, is denatured ethanol or isopropyl alcohol used for external applications, to clean and disinfect wounds to prevent the growth of bacteria or to remove and kill bacteria in an already infected wound.

Why is Denatured Alcohol used in cosmetics?

Because of its anti-bacterial properties, ethanol is considered one of the most natural preservatives for cosmetic use. Added to products containing water in their formulations and paired with other naturally derived preservatives, provides the necessary preservation system required to impede the growth of pathogens that could potentially spoil the product and put consumers at risk for infections, without the use of endocrine disruptors preservatives like parabens.

Because drinkable alcohol has incredibly high taxes, to keep the costs down most cosmetic companies use denatured ethanol derived from corn, grapes or sugar cane, rendered undrinkable with essential oils or other natural ingredients that wouldn’t affect the formulation or consumers.

By Valenti Organics. Luxurious. Exotic. All Natural Skincare.

Ethanol, actually any alcohol, can reduce water content via a form of water loss known as trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), lipid or fat loss, and protein loss. These properties allow for ethanol to be an effective (and drying) penetration enhancer when used in a cosmetic formulation and paired with active nutrients. Used alone it can be harmful to the skin due to its drying properties. (1, 2, 3)

Alcohol when applied topically, depending on the amount and application, temporarily dehydrates the skin increasing the absorption of nutrients and beneficial ingredients in a particular cosmetic so the active nutrients can reach the deep layers of the skin, maximizing its regenerative and nourishing actions.

What Denatured Alcohol is By Valenti Organics Using?

At By Valenti Organics we use Organic 190 proof Ethanol produced from the fermentation of sugar cane, denatured (meaning rendering it undrinkable) with Organic Lavender Essential Oil.

I read an article that said Denatured Alcohol is not good.

Denatured alcohol is not good to drink, as it can render the consumer blind or dead. However in external medical applications, and used in cosmetic formulations according to good manufacturing practices it provides many benefits, including but not limited, as a natural preservative for all cosmetics containing water-based ingredients prone to bacterial growth.

Carcinogenic Properties of Topically Applied Ethanol.

Well, contrary to the internet, ethanol is non-carcinogenic when applied externally, that is on the skin. No scientific studies have ever shown a link between topical ethanol application and skin cancer. Nonetheless, ethanol and aloe emodin (a component of Aloe Vera) alter the p53 mutational spectrum in ultraviolet radiation exposure, increasing the risk for skin tumors. (4)

Consuming copious amounts of ethanol in alcoholic beverages however, leads to an increase risk for oral, hepatic and breast cancer. (5, 6, 7)

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