Cetyl Alcohol



Due to its emollient property, Cetyl alcohol is a common ingredient in skincare and hair-care products (creams, lotions) that are targetted to improve dry, flaky skin.

INCI Name: Cetyl Alcohol

Common Name: Cetyl Alcohol

Ingredient Function: Thickener, Emulsion Stabilizer

Other Names: Palmityl Alcohol [Cetyl Alcohol is a type of alcohol that is obtained from a fat/ oil such as palm oil, which is the reason it’s also called Palmityl Alcohol].

Derived From: Vegetable oils such as palm oil, coconut oil, soy or corn oil. For those who prefer Palm-free skincare ingredients, Cetyl alcohol is also be obtained from petroleum by-products. *Our Cetyl Alcohol is derived from palm oil.

Appearance: White waxy flakes

Form: Waxy solid flakes at room temperature

Smell: Unscented

Solubility: Cetyl Alcohol is insoluble in water but soluble in alcohols and oils.

Melting Point: 49 degrees Centigrade (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Storage: Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight.

Usage Rate: 0.5% to 6% (concentration of oil phase). Maximum Usage Level: 40% [Typically used 3% in body lotion, 6% in face cream, 6% in face wash, 6% in face masks, 6% in body wash products].

Formulation Notes:

  • Add to the Oil Phase of a formulation
  • The higher the concentration of Cetyl Alcohol, the thicker the final product will be.
  • Add Cetyl Alcohol to heated oil phase in a formulation. Alternatively, Cetyl Alcohol should be mixed with oil and then heated during the oil phase, to have it melted.

Types of Products Formulated With Cetyl Alcohol

  • Creams and Lotions
  • Body Butter
  • Face Cleanser
  • Face Mask
  • Bath and Shower Gels
  • Hair Shampoos and Conditioners


Cetyl Alcohol is a multipurpose naturally-derived cosmetic formulation raw material that functions as a thickener, an emollient, emulsion stabilizer, foam booster, and helps create slip and glide in end-products.

As a fatty alcohol, Cetyl alcohol helps protect the skin from moisture loss, bacteria and allergens. When used in personal care formulations, Cetyl Alcohol helps improve the texture of cosmetic products. In spite of having ‘alcohol’ in its name, Cetyl Alcohol is not a drying type of alcohol; it does not dry out the skin.

Benefits of Cetyl Alcohol

  • Cetyl Alcohol is commonly used to stabilize emulsions
  • It is used to thicken or add body to an emulsion or formulation without increasing the size of the oil phase, thus creating a creamy non-greasy lotion.
  • As an emollient is used to help soften the skin and hair
  • Cetyl Alcohol is a non-drying ingredient that hydrates and softens the skin to reduce irritation, cracking, and peeling
  • Cetyl Alcohol also functions as a foam booster when used in the formulation of cosmetic and skincare products


Uses of Cetyl Alcohol in Skincare/ Haircare Formulations

In cosmetic and skincare formulations, Cetyl Alcohol functions as a thickener, an emollient, foam booster, and helps create slip and glide.

Cetyl Alcohol As a Thickening Agent: As a thickening agent, Cetyl alcohol helps improve the viscosity (thickness) of cosmetics and skincare products. It can be used to thicken formulations, by adding body/ viscosity, helping create a creamy texture.

Cetyl Alcohol As an Emollient: As an emollient, Cetyl Alcohol is an effective skincare ingredient to help soften and smoothen rough, flaky skin and also help improve dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. When used in skincare products, Cetyl Alcohol functions as an emollient to create a hydrating barrier on the skin to protect and prevent water loss and at the same time keeping air and other environmental elements out.

Cetyl Alcohol As an Emulsion Stabilizer: As a thickening agent, Cetyl Alcohol helps bind/ homogenize ingredients that naturally separate, ensuring that formulated products do not separate and they remain consistently stable long after their production date. When used in makeup and cosmetic products, Cetyl Alcohol also helps the products stick to the skin.

Cetyl Alcohol As a Foam Enhancer: Cetyl alcohol increases the foaming capability of formulations. This is why it is an ingredient in many shampoos, cleansers and body washes.

Cety Alcohol is Not that Type of  ‘Alcohol’ and How It’s Beneficial For the Skin

Cetyl Alcohol is not the same as the type of alcohol in drinks and avoided by people of different religions. Cetyl Alcohol should not be confused with or mistaken for Ethyl Alcohol. Ethyl Alcohol is the main ingredient in alcoholic beverages

On the other hand, Cetyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol and it is a skin-friendly ingredient that possesses conditioning, moisturizing (hydrating/ lubricating) and softening properties. Fatty alcohols, such as Cetyl Alcohol, are composed of a combination of fatty acids and alcohols.

*NOTE: Cetyl Alcohol is a cosmetic grade ingredient and for external use only (not to be eaten), and for use in cosmetic formulation. 

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