Cetyl alcohol: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Cetyl alcohol: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Cetyl alcohol

Cetyl alcohol is commonly found in many skincare and cosmetic products of eminent brands. Cetyl alcohol uses are plenty for both skin and hair. It also acts as a stabiliser for many cosmetics. Besides, it helps emulsify oil and other liquids present in cosmetics like liquid lipsticks. Also, it is naturally extracted from plants like palm and coconut trees. So, it is a constituent that is rich in the goodness of nature.


Scientific name: 1-hexadecanol


Formula (Chemical composition): The cetyl alcohol structure has 16-C fatty alcohol so as per scientific nomenclature it is n-hexadecyl alcohol. 

Cetyl alcohol uses & benefits

The ingredient cetyl alcohol is beneficial for topical use on skin and hair. Below are the ways in which it helps to deal with certain skin and hair conditions.

Cetyl alcohol for skin

  • It acts as a barrier for many microbes to evade our skin and cause infections. 
  • Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol lotion are available at every skincare store which help hydrate the skin. It transforms dry skin into a tender and toned one. 
  • Many variants of cetyl alcohol cream are also used by consumers with positive feedback. Many say that it changes the texture of their skin and makes it look hydrated and glowy.
  • Certain skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can be improved with a few applications of cetyl alcohol cream
  • If you have flaky skin, regular use of cetyl alcohol may reduce it. It goes within the three dermis layers and makes the skin moisturised. 
  • Cetyl alcohol uses can act as a skin surfactant that eases greasy particles and germs to wash off the skin. 
  • It also helps our skin to get rid of the dead skin and improve skin cell growth with proper transport of nutrition. 
  • Even if you have sensitive skin, cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol lotion uses can improve the condition. It enables your skin to breathe and deals with pollutants well.
  • Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol cleansing lotion help deep clean the face. Hence, it can be a part of a cleansing toning and moisturising regime.
  • People who have dry skin can choose cetyl alcohol face wash to avoid drying after every wash. 

Cetyl alcohol for hair

  • Cetyl alcohol cream uses on hair can effectively add moisture. It helps to seal the cuticles of hair which gives it a silky and smooth finish. 
  • If you are fond of colouring your hair, cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol can rescue your hair from getting damaged. It keeps the hair well-nourished and prevents the harmful chemicals in the hair colours from impacting negatively. 
  • You can find cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol shampoos almost at every skincare store. You can use it to keep your hair manageable and tangle-free.

How to apply/use Cetyl alcohol

Cetyl alcohol application differs with every product. Its formulation for skincare and haircare products is different. 

Cetyl alcohol for skin

  • If you want to apply cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol lotion on the skin, you should stick to using a few drops of the product all over the body. 
  • Just take enough product that will cover your body completely. Then, with an upward and downward motion, massage it on your body. When the product sinks into the skin, stop the process.
  • Continue this routine every day at least once to have smooth and moisturised skin.
  • On the other hand, if you want to use cetyl alcohol face wash, use it twice on damp skin every day. 
  • After washing your face with it, gently tap dry your face. Do not rub it off. 
  • For best results, use a cetyl alcohol cream after washing with this face wash.
  • Cetyl alcohol cream uses on the face are many and it is ideal to use twice to keep the face hydrated
  • Put it on like a small dot at all the elevated points of the face like the nose, chin and cheeks. 
  • Then, massage the lotion gently all over the skin till it completely gets absorbed. 
  • Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol cleansing lotion can be used as an alternative to face wash. Or else you can keep both in your skincare routine. First, use the face wash and then cleanse your face with the cleanser. 
  • Take a few drops of it on a cotton ball and gently rub off the dirt. This enables double cleansing of the face. 

Cetyl alcohol for hair

  • You can use a cetyl alcohol shampoo like the normal shampoos. 
  • It can be a part of your regular hair care regime. 
  • Use it daily to get the wanted results.
  • Besides if you use a cream with cetyl alcohol for styling your hair, use it in small quantities.
  • It can also be used daily, however, in limited portions.

Cetyl alcohol Side effects 

Cetyl alcohol has a few side effects associated with it.

  • You may feel a stinging sensation just after applying this product. However, the feeling subsides within a few minutes. 
  • Some people prone to dermatitis often are allergic to cetyl alcohol. They have inflammatory reactions on the skin within a few minutes after using it.
  • It can induce acne in oily skin as its moisturisation capacity is high. 

Precautions while using Cetyl alcohol

Prevention is always better than cure. If you have sensitive skin, always take the following precautions.

  • Do a patch test on the skin before using a cetyl alcohol product daily. 
  • Avoid using this product if you have acne-prone oily skin. 

FAQs on Cetyl alcohol:

  • Is cetyl alcohol safe for the skin?
  • Yes, cetyl alcohol is safe for the skin. However, use cetyl alcohol creams and other products after conducting a patch test on the skin as a precaution. 


  • What Is the difference between stearic acid and cetyl alcohol?
  • The structure of stearic acid and the cetyl alcohol structure vary in their consistencies. Stearic acid products are comparatively thicker than the products containing cetyl alcohol. So, stearic acid products are ideal for use during the winters. On the contrary, cetyl alcohol products give a silky smooth texture to the skin and do not feel thick. 


  • Can we consider cetyl alcohol a clean ingredient?
  • Cetyl alcohol used in skincare products is derived from natural resources like palms and coconuts. Hence, it is approved by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) and FDA. 


  • Can I use cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol lotion for babies to reduce diaper rashes?
  • Yes, cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol lotion uses can reduce diaper rashes among babies. However, a patch test will be ideal before using it or else consult a paediatric dermatologist for a better understanding. 


  • Is cetyl alcohol cream beneficial for radiation burns?
  • Numerous medicated creams contain cetyl alcohol. Cetyl alcohol creams are known to reduce burns from radiation therapies but it will be appropriate to recommend an oncologist before use. 


  • Can I replace my petroleum jelly with cetyl alcohol cream or lotion?
  • Yes, you can replace your regular petroleum jelly with cetyl alcohol cream as it gives better moisturisation and lasts longer on the skin.

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