Ethanol as preservative


I'd like to use Ethyl Alcohol as the only preservative for a facial cream/lotion. I know this is not the most popular method of preserving a cream but some products seem to do it successfully (Dr. Bronner's Organic Lotion.)

I'd appreciate any input if this is a good idea/effective broad spectrum preservative and what a good concentration would be. My current formula is 23% ethanol.


  • Ethanol can work fine as preservative only advised if your formula already contains ethanol, I wouldn't add EtOH just for preservation sake. Extrapolating my experience with pharmaceuticals to cosmetics You can use less Benzyl alcohol than ethanol (for the same preservation capacity), thus reducing irritation.
  • Are you happy with the extra cost of using an airless package?
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Gunther, will look into using Benzyl alcohol tho I am concerned it might be more irritating than ethanol

    Belassi the product will either be in an airless or pump bottle
  • Benzyl alcohol is both
    less irritating than the same amount of Ethanol
    for preservation you'll need less BA than EtOH, further reducing irritation.

    Extrapolating from pharmaceuticals (may not fully apply to cosmetics as they're often left open in the air, until it runs out):
    If I'm not mistaken you'll need at least 5% EtOH for proper preservation
    while you can do fine with less than 1% BA.
  • I'm not sure but using that much in a lotion could be in violation of VOC regulations in California.
  • ETOH would raise flash point,cost more for packaging.Definitely not recommended.
  • Sorry meant lower Flash point
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