Chemophobia is a real word that means an irrational fear of chemicals. It's one of the many phobias that have come to the limelight in recent times.
We can observe chemophobia around us if we are a little attentive. Be it beauty bloggers telling you that you should apply no chemical whatsoever to your skin to people going paranoid about fertilizers and insecticides; chemophobia is all around us.
The problem is that fear of chemicals is not always irrational. They can kill you if they are harmful and cause a range of physical problems, even with topical application only. We must be mindful of the chemicals we use in our daily lives without being irrationally afraid of them.
One chemical that attracts a lot of unwarranted hate is Cetearyl alcohol. Today we'll explore the rationale behind the fear and popular misconceptions about the substance.
Table of Contents:
- What Is Cetearyl Alcohol?
- Where Is Cetearyl Alcohol Used?
- Benefits of Cetearyl Alcohol
- Side Effects of Cetearyl Alcohol
- Verdict: Should You Use Products With Cetearyl Alcohol?
What Is Cetearyl Alcohol?
Cetearyl alcohol is a chemical substance commonly found in cosmetics. Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, two fatty alcohols, are combined to form a white, waxy substance. They can be found in both flora and fauna, such as crude palm oil and coconut oil. They may also be created in a lab.
Because of their chemical composition, fatty alcohols are occasionally referred to as long-chain alcohols. They typically contain an even number of carbon atoms, with the final carbon linked to a single alcohol group (-OH).
Other names for it include Cetylstearyl Alcohol and Cetostearyl Alcohol. It functions as an emulsion stabilizer, an opacifying substance, and a surfactant that increases foam. It can be used in water-in-oil emulsification, oil-in-water emulsification, and anhydrous compositions, and it gives the skin a velvety sensation.
Cetearyl alcohol has very limited uses outside the beauty industry.
Where Is Cetearyl Alcohol Used?
Cetearyl alcohol is most commonly used in hair conditioners, but it's also used in a range of creams, lotions, and moisturizers. This substance prevents oil and liquid from separating and acts as a binder. As a result, it also makes creams and lotions thicker and gives them a smoother texture.
Cetearyl alcohol is also present in hair dyes and sunscreens for the same purpose of binding the ingredients together. It also acts as a foaming agent and is sometimes present in shampoos as well. In a nutshell, Cetearyl alcohol is present in most skin and hair care products.
Benefits of Cetearyl Alcohol
There are no real benefits of Cetearyl alcohol for your hair and skin. It's just a chemical that binds together all the other ingredients that do have beneficial properties. There's only one tangible benefit of this chemical — it makes your skin feel smoother. Since it acts as an emollient, it forms a layer of oil on top of the skin, giving it a smooth finish.
However, keep in mind that the emollient properties of Cetearyl alcohol do not have any long-term bearing. It does not treat or affect the skin from the inside, nor does the skin absorb Cetearyl alcohol. It's a purely cosmetic benefit that works as long as the substance is on your skin.
Side Effects of Cetearyl Alcohol
Just as Cetearyl alcohol does not have any real benefits, it also does not have any real side effects. You can use it safely and repeatedly unless you have a specific allergy to the substance.
Most of us know that alcohol is drying in nature. Anyone who has used rubbing alcohol or aftershave knows how drying it can be. That makes many people wonder whether Cetearyl alcohol is also drying. The good news is that it isn't.
Cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol, and fatty alcohols have very different structures from other alcohols. Instead of making your skin dry, it traps water and provides a soothing sensation. The chemical structure of fatty alcohol makes it suitable for application on both hair and skin. The FDA also recognizes Cetearyl alcohol as a safe dietary additive.
Several studies have shown that Cetearyl alcohol does not cause any harm to the skin or hair in the long run. Unless you are allergic to it, there's nothing to worry about.
Verdict: Should You Use Products With Cetearyl Alcohol?
The short answer: yes. It doesn't really matter whether you use Cetearyl alcohol on your skin and hair. If you do, nothing bad will happen. If you don't, nothing bad will happen either. But it's much more difficult to find products that do not have Cetearyl alcohol. If you have to pay more to get a product that doesn't have Cetearyl alcohol in it, you are simply wasting your money.
Doctors, dermatologists, and skincare experts all agree that Cetearyl alcohol is not bad for you. But if you are still unsure about it, you can continue not using it without any side effects.
Drawing back to the topic of chemophobia, it's important to acknowledge that not all chemicals are bad. No modern skin or hair care product can be complete without at least some chemicals. But that doesn't make them inferior to all-natural treatments in any way. If anything, they make the product more effective.
However, this is not to say that harmful chemicals don't exist. In reality, most shampoos and conditioners are loaded with harmful chemicals. Cetearyl alcohol is not one of them. If you are actually concerned about chemicals that go on your hair and skin, Cetearyl alcohol is the last thing you need to worry about.
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