What is benzyl alcohol? – Benzyl alcohol is getting contained in numerous medicines and cosmetic products as a fragrance and flavoring. Furthermore, alcohol serves as a preservative for injection solutions and cosmetics as well as a disinfectant.
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Table of Contents
What is benzyl alcohol? – Cosmetics and aroma additive
Benzyl alcohol is a colorless, somewhat oily liquid that occurs naturally as a component of many essential oils such as ylang-ylang, jasmine, and gold varnish.
In contrast to the pungent smell of ethanol, benzyl alcohol has a mild, slightly almond-like odor – which is hardly surprising when you know it can be getting obtained from plants.
However, since this is a very lengthy and therefore expensive process, benzyl alcohol is almost exclusively produced synthetically.
It is getting used in cosmetics as a disinfectant, solvent, and preservative. It’s also used as an aroma additive in fruit flavors, beverages, cough sweets, and juices. And because it not only preserves well but also smells delicious, it is often found in creams, lotions, shampoo, and shower gel.
Effects of benzyl alcohol
Cosmetic products often contain benzyl alcohol. Get here the ten facts:
- The fragrance can cause allergic reactions in some people.
- Then your skin reddens after external use of products containing benzyl alcohol.
- Besides, in the case of an allergic reaction, your skin will flake, and you will have to deal with itching.
- Allergic rhinitis and coughing and irritation of the respiratory tract may also indicate an allergy to benzyl alcohol.
- If you become an allergic reaction to benzyl alcohol, itching in the mouth or nose may be the result of contact with the flavoring.
- If you have acute symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately. Your doctor will then give you an antiallergic agent.
- In general, hypersensitivity to benzyl alcohol is rather rare. Nevertheless, the aromatic substance is one of the bad alcohols.
- It extracts moisture from the skin. The skin dries out faster.
- Benzyl alcohol also slightly irritates the skin.
- If possible, the substance should be getting avoided as it can be bad for your health in larger quantities.
Where is benzyl alcohol contained?
Benzyl alcohol cannot only be getting produced synthetically. It is also naturally contained in many essential oils.
- It is why benzyl alcohol is sometimes getting used in natural cosmetics. The products can be getting declared as natural products despite the ingredient.
- Benzyl alcohol can be getting contained in cosmetics such as skincare or sun creams, perfume, hairspray, hair dyes, or shower gel.
- Medicines containing benzyl alcohol can be cough drops, medicinal creams, nasal, or throat sprays.
- Flavored drinks, cocktails, or liqueurs may also contain the flavoring substance.
- Sweets such as cakes, chocolate, or biscuits may also contain benzyl alcohol.
- Among the ingredients, you will find benzyl alcohol also as phenyl methanol or under E 1519.
How to recognize cosmetics with benzyl alcohol?
Most chemical substances have different names. Benzyl alcohol is no exception. In the following list, you will find similar names:
- Benzyl alcohol
How does benzyl alcohol work?
Benzyl alcohol (C7H7-OH) is alcohol; The difference to ethanol is that it consists of many more carbon atoms and has more lipophilic properties. However, like ethanol, it also has a hydroxyl group (OH), which mixes with water.
Like most alcohols, benzyl alcohol has a disinfecting and preserving effect and is getting added to many cosmetics in low concentrations.
The disinfecting effect is getting based on the fact that it can kill bacteria. The preservative properties are because it supports the inhibition of bacterial proliferation – just like ethanol.
Where does benzyl alcohol is getting used?
Benzyl alcohol has very different properties and a wide range of applications. It is a fragrance, flavor, and preservative, and It makes it indispensable in cosmetics.
Benzyl alcohol is also getting used as a solvent for, for example, paints and inks. One of the best-known applications here is permanent markers.
Benzyl alcohol is also getting found in food, usually under the name benzyl benzoate or E1519. There it has fixed maximum values of 100mg per liter for liquid and 250g per kilogram for solid foods.
Because of its pungent taste, benzyl alcohol is getting used as a flavor for, for example, liqueurs, chocolate, and biscuits. In the textile industry, it has its place in the coloring and nuance of fabrics.
It is mainly getting used to dye wool, but other chemicals are now getting used because of the increased cost of benzyl alcohol.
Benzyl alcohol has a further field of application in the printing industry. Here especially as an accelerator for the development of photos. However, due to digital photography, this is used less and less.
Is alcohol bad in cosmetics?
This question cannot be answered quickly with yes or no. It’s essential to know that there are different types of alcohol that are getting used in cosmetic products.
Roughly speaking, these are getting classified into good alcohols and bad alcohols. Good and bad, in this case, means how they affect the skin.
If the alcohols are harmful or even cause allergies, they are getting classified as bad. Good alcohols have to nurture properties such as a refatting effect.
If a product is getting declared with the attributes without alcohol or alcohol-free, this does not mean that there is no alcohol at all in the respective product.
It simply means that none of the bad alcohols can be getting found on the list of ingredients. The amount of alcohol added decreases the further down the list of ingredients. It can be both useful and misleading for the consumer.
Benzyl alcohol can cause allergic reactions in some people, resulting in rough, reddened, scaly skin with itching. If there is prolonged contact with the allergen, blisters, nodules, and painful skin cracks may appear.
However, the allergenic potential of benzyl alcohol is shallow, which is why cosmetic products containing this ingredient can be getting used without significant concerns.
Those who are generally sensitive to preservatives should be careful and test the product on a small wrist or forearm area beforehand.
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