What Is It?
Stearyl Alcohol, Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol are long chain fatty alcohols. Stearyl Alcohol is a white, waxy solid with a faint odor, while Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol are clear, colorless liquids. These three ingredients are found in a wide variety of products such as hair conditioners, foundations, eye makeup, skin moisturizers, skin cleansers and other skin care products.
Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?
Stearyl Alcohol, Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol help to form emulsions and prevent an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components. These ingredients also reduce the tendency of finished products to generate foam when shaken. When used in the formulation of skin care products, Stearyl Alcohol, Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol act as a lubricants on the skin surface, which gives the skin a soft, smooth appearance.
Stearyl Alcohol and Oleyl Alcohol are mixtures of long-chain fatty alcohols. Stearyl Alcohol consists primarily of n-octadecanol, while Oleyl Alcohol is primarily unsaturated 9-n-octadecenol. Octyldodecanol is a branched chain fatty alcohol. Fatty alcohols are higher molecular weight nonvolatile alcohols. They are produced from natural fats and oils by reduction of the fatty acid (-COOH) grouping to the hydroxyl function (-OH). Alternately, several completely synthetic routes yield fatty alcohols which may be structurally identical or similar to the naturally-derived alcohols.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the safety of Stearyl Alcohol and approved its use as a multipurpose additive for direct addition to food. Stearyl Alcohol and Oleyl Alcohol have also been approved for use as indirect food additives. The safety of Stearyl Alcohol and related ingredients has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Stearyl Alcohol, Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol were safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products. In 2004, the CIR Expert Panel considered available new data on Stearyl Alcohol, Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol and reaffirmed the above conclusion.
More safety Information:
CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel noted that Stearyl Alcohol is found naturally in various mammalian tissues and the metabolism of Stearyl Alcohol and Oleyl Alcohol in animals is well described. Due to the chemical nature and benign biological activity of these compounds, they are not suspected of significant potential for carcinogenesis, reproductive or developmental effects. Furthermore, tests in humans of products containing these ingredients demonstrated low potential for skin irritation or sensitization.
FDA: Link to Code of Federal Regulations for Stearyl Alcohol and Oleyl Alcohol
If they are made from plants, Stearyl Alcohol, Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol 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. Ingredients of animal origin must comply with the European Union animal by-products regulations.
More Scientific Information:
Fatty alcohols, including Stearyl and Oleyl Alcohols occur in small quantities as components of wax esters in plants and animals. The compounds serve to protect the outer surface of plants and animals from water loss. Stearyl Alcohol, Oleyl Alcohol and Octyldodecanol function as emulsion stabilizers, surfactant – emulsifying agents, antifoaming agents, and skin conditioning agents – emollient in cosmetics and personal care products.
Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration