SD Alcohol – Cosmetics ‘Alcohol-Free’ Marketing Scam Part 2

Part 2: How the Cosmetic Industry took advantage of SD Alcohol

SD alcohol was a harmless and effective solution until the cosmetics industry recognized that SD alcohol could be labeled as ‘alcohol-free’. This labeling could make a difference between a sale and no sale. Ethanol is very useful when it comes to designing cosmetic products – it can be used as emollients , surfactant/detergent cleansing agents, absorbents and much more, and there are little other compounds that can achieve such effects, especially at such a low price. Every cosmetic formulation specialist would readily use it if it were not for the adverse effect that ethanol might cause – irritation and drying of skin. Sure, you can add ethanol, make a great cream but not as many people will buy it because you cannot label it ‘alcohol-free’; and if your end goal is to sell as much as possible, the solution of not including ethanol in the cream formulation is quite obvious.

This is where the cosmetics marketing scam comes in the mix. The cosmetic industry has figured out a way to include ethanol in the making of creams and other products, and still claim the ‘alcohol-free’ label – from their point of view, it is a perfect solution. It is as simple as adding the SD alcohol; which is basically just ethanol + poison. FDA and other regulatory services regard only ethanol by itself as ‘alcohol’. Well, this is not ethanol by itself anymore; it is ethanol + poison, or specially denatured alcohol (SD alcohol for short).

There are many varieties of SD alcohol which differ by the type of poison that is added to ethanol. The most basic toxin added is methanol which causes blindness if consumed too heavily – that was a good trick to keep everybody from drinking the laboratory ethanol, but would reap havoc to the skin if used in a skin product. In some cases of SD alcohol, the equivalent of rat poison is added as toxin. Now that is a problem to be concerned about if you’re using such a cosmetic product on your face.

A little help: FDA has issued a list of acceptable SD alcohols that are safe for humans and can be used in cosmetics products:

  • SD Alcohol 23-A
  • SD Alcohol 40
  • SD Alcohol 40-B

If the label on the cream you’re thinking about buying includes any other SD alcohol, you are recommended to stay far away from it.

Bottom line: SD alcohol is a nice example of a marketing trick mainstream cosmetic industry are playing on the consumers. They are more than willing to consciously add poison to a cosmetic product if it means it will sell more, and, unfortunately, with deceptive ‘alcohol-free’ marketing this is exactly what is currently happening. If you are experiencing any kind of unusual irritation on your skin, please do check if it includes SD alcohol first. You know where the trash is if it does!

The case of SD alcohol is exactly why consumers need to be informed about what actually goes into cosmetics products. Cosmetic companies will do everything to divert our attention to labels such as ‘alcohol-free’, ‘organic’, natural’, and will try really hard to nail down the smallest font possible for the only things that actually matter on a label – the ingredients; what the product is actually made of.

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