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Multitasking Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol

Woman applying cream to hands

Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol (CSA) is a very common ingredient found in many skincare products.  It is often used as an emollient, emulsifier, or thickening agent.

Despite its name, it’s not actually an "alcohol" in the sense of ethyl or rubbing alcohol; rather, it's a combination of fatty alcohols derived from natural sources like coconut or palm oil.

In this blog we chat about its properties, benefits, and potential applications in skincare formulations.

What is Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol?

In terms of its chemical composition, Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol is composed of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, which are fatty alcohols, with the Cetyl alcohol acting as an emollient or thickening agent, while stearyl alcohol can perform the role of an emollient or stabiliser.

Properties and Benefits
  • Emollient Properties: CSA acts as a lubricant on the skin's surface, giving it a soft and smooth appearance. It helps to prevent water loss by forming a barrier on the skin, thereby aiding in moisture retention.

  • Texture Enhancement: In skincare products like lotions and creams, CSA contributes to their creamy texture and helps stabilise the formulation, ensuring it stays well-mixed without separating.

  • Non-Comedogenic: CSA is generally considered non-comedogenic, meaning it's unlikely to clog pores, making it suitable for various skin types, including sensitive or acne-prone skin.

  • Compatibility: It’s normally well-tolerated, even by individuals with sensitive skin since it’s less likely to cause irritation compared to other alcohols commonly found in skincare products.

Usage Tips:
  • Hydration: While CSA can aid in moisture retention, it may not be as effective at hydrating skin on its own. Combining it with humectants like glycerine or hyaluronic acid can enhance its hydrating properties.

  • Formulation Concentration: Higher concentrations of CSA might contribute to a heavier feel on the skin. Typically concentration raning from 2% to 10% are suggested.

  • Combinations: It’s often used in combination with other ingredients like surfactants, preservatives, or botanical extracts, enhancing their efficacy and stability in formulations.

In conclusion, Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol serves various purposes in skincare formulations - primarily as an emollient and stabiliser. Its non-comedogenic nature and compatibility with various skin types make it a versatile ingredient in many skincare products, contributing to their texture, stability, and moisturising properties.


For more information on Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol and other hair care ingredients contact visit


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