Skip to content
A fair-skinned woman dispensing a face cream into the hand of a dark-skinned woman
Graydon Moffat Image

Ingredient Highlight: Cetearyl Alcohol

Cetearyl alcohol is often a misunderstood skincare ingredient. Keep reading to learn about what it is and why it's so great for dry, rough skin.

Other names: C16-18 alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol
What it is: moisturizer/emollient, texture enhancer
You can find it in: Berry Rich, Phyto Clear, Skin Stuff, Putty, Face Glow, Aloe Milk Cleanser, All Over Face + Body Lotion, Matcha Mint Shampoo, Matcha Mint Hair Smoothie

Cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that’s commonly used in cosmetic products. It’s a mixture of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, which are fatty alcohols that naturally occur in some plants, such as palm or coconut, and animals. The cetearyl alcohol we use is plant derived. 

So what makes cetearyl alcohol such a wonderful skincare ingredient? 

For one, it’s a well-known moisturizing agent. To be more specific, it’s an emollient, meaning it helps to smooth and soften your skin. As a result, you can usually find it in products like lotions and creams. Unlike drying alcohols, such as ethanol or denatured alcohol, cetearyl alcohol has a long oil-soluble tail in its structure, making it non-drying and non-irritating to the skin.

The main benefits of cetearyl alcohol; however, are as a formula stabilizer.

It achieves this in 3 ways:

  • Prevents separation of the formula: Cetearyl alcohol is an emulsifier. This means it helps water and oil to blend together nicely and form a smooth, uniform mixture. Without an emulsifier, your fav cream or lotion would separate into a watery part and an oily part.

  • Encourages even application: As an emulsifier, cetearyl alcohol also helps products to go on your skin in a lovely, even layer. This is important because even application of a product increases its overall effectiveness. 

  • Controls viscosity: Cetearyl alcohol is also used in cosmetic products as a thickener, which helps to give lotions and creams a more luxurious texture and feel.
  • So, who is it good for?

    If your skin is on the drier side with a rough texture, you’ll definitely benefit from cetearyl alcohol in your skincare products. When you see this ingredient listed on your products, you'll now understand its significance within the formulation.


    Want all the benefits of niacinamide, but don't know where to start? Then click here for two combos that will leave you with bright, even, healthy-looking skin.

    Previous article Ingredient Highlight: Oat Oil
    Graydon's insiders club

    Be the first to know about sales and product launches, get monthly Insider's Perks and access to exclusive deals while learning about skincare, with tips and tricks from Mindful Beauty Magazine.

    Latest articles

    Compare products

    {"one"=>"Select 2 or 3 items to compare", "other"=>"{{ count }} of 3 items selected"}

    Select first item to compare

    Select second item to compare

    Select third item to compare