Isopropyl Alcohol

What Is It?

Isopropyl Alcohol, also called isopropanol or 2-propanol, is most commonly known as rubbing alcohol. Isopropyl Alcohol is widely used in cosmetics and personal care products, such as aftershave lotions, bath products, eye and other makeup products, as well as nail, hair, and skin care products.

Why Is It Used?

In products designed for consumers, Isopropyl Alcohol functions as an antifoaming agent, cosmetic astringent, solvent, and viscosity decreasing agent.

In products designed for healthcare professionals, Isopropyl Alcohol is an antiseptic found in health care personnel hand washes, health care personnel hand rubs, surgical hand scrubs, surgical hand rubs, and patient antiseptic skin preparations.

Scientific Facts

Isopropyl Alcohol has an odor resembling ethanol, is volatile, and produces a cooling effect upon evaporation. When used in OTC antiseptic drug products intended for use by health care professionals, Isopropyl Alcohol kills and prevents the growth of microorganisms.

Safety Information

In 2012, the U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (CIR) reviewed the available the scientific literature for Isopropyl Alcohol during its safety assessment of methyl acetate (a metabolite of methyl acetate) and concluded it was safe under the current conditions of use in cosmetics products.

In 2017, the FDA issued a new final rule that applied to health care antiseptic products that are intended for use by health care professionals in a hospital setting or other health care situations outside the hospital. The Agency deferred further rulemaking on six active ingredients, including Isopropyl Alcohol, to allow for the development and submission to the record of new safety and effectiveness data for these ingredients. Accordingly, the safety and efficacy of Isopropyl Alcohol in this application will be addressed at a future date.

EU Cosmetic Regulation

Isopropyl Alcohol may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed the available safety data on Isopropyl Alcohol (also known as 2-propanol) in 1990 and concluded “it is unlikely that 2-propanol will pose a serious health risk for the general population under exposure conditions likely to be normally encountered.”


Find out more about the regulation of over-the-counter drugs by the Food and Drug Administration

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