Alcohol in personal care products and cosmetics.

We all love taking care of ourselves. It is a basic human instinct. Taking care of the largest organ of the body— the skin,  exists deep in the subconscious of a woman’s mind. Coming to these skin care products, there is a really conflicting view regarding the presence of alcohol in them. Alcohol is one such beverage that is highly forbidden in the holy Quran in addition to the meat of swine. Skin care products, cosmetics, after-shave lotions, perfumes, deodorants, blah blah the list goes on when checking for the presence of alcohol. It is really good to be assured you are not angering the creator whilst beautifying yourself. Alcohol is haram, in the sense it leads to intoxication. But are all the so-called alcohols haram???.Lets count on the haram and halal alcohols present in our quotidian personal care products. Most of these chemical formulations are permissible as they have no link to the real alcohol. Its quite surprising.


As Wikipedia defines “ethyl alcohol also commonly called as ethanol or drinking alcohol is the principal type of alcohol present in alcoholic beverages and is produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts”. It is mostly used as a solvent in mouth-washes, perfumes and deodorants. When used it might enter the blood stream leading to intoxication in some cases. Hence ethyl alcohol or ethanol used in personal care products is haram. So one should avoid it.

Cetearyl alcohol also called as cetostearyl alcohol or cetylstearyl is not alcohol in the true sense. It is an emulsifier prepared by combining fatty alcohols that are derived from vegetable oils like palm oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter or Shea butter. It does not involve the process of fermentation. It helps in binding the oils and water in personal care products like shampoos, hair conditioners and facial creams. It has no intoxicating effects as it is not consumable in the original form. It is a solid mass, a wax like substance. Hence it is halal to be used in personal products.

Cetyl alcohol is also derived from fatty-alcohols and is a long chain alcohol. It is in the form of solid wax flakes at room temperature. It is derived from palmitic acid or palm oil, and causes no intoxication even if taken orally. Cetyl alcohol is used as an emulsifying wax in shampoos, creams and lotions. It is also uses as a medicinal ingredient in certain skin disorder treatments. It is halal as it has no point in intoxicating humans, as it is just a white waxy substance

Stearyl alcohol is an organic compound classified as a fatty alcohol. It takes the form of white crystals and flakes and is insoluble in water. Stearyl alcohol is produced from stearic acid and is often used as an emulsifier or emollient in creams, shampoos and other personal care products to give it a thickened state. Stearic acid is often produced from the fats of animals like pigs, cows and sheep, wherein the product is not halal. But if  the product is from a vegan or vegetarian brand then stearyl alcohol might contain stearic acid from plant sources like Shea butter and Cocoa butter and is halal in status.

Benzyl alcohol is one naturally occurring alcohol. It is derived from a variety of fruits and teas. Benzyl alcohol is an naturally found aromatic compound with no intoxicating effect. It is also found in many essential oils like those of jasmine, hyacinth and ylang-ylang. It is used in perfumes and deodorants and is considered halal as it is either found naturally with no intoxicating effect or it is chemically prepared and is not consumable.

Lanolin is a substance derived from the sheared fleece of a sheep. The animal is unharmed during the entire process. The extracted lanolin is mixed with acetic acid to prepare what is called lanolin alcohol or sheep alcohol. It is used as an emollient in face creams.This is considered to be halal as in the sense it is not consumable and has an animal ingredient which is derived without slaughtering the animal.

Most of the alcohols used in cosmetics just have the tag of alcohol in them. On the contrary they are neither in a consumable form nor can they be observed by the body. And over all they do not have an intoxicating effect. They are just used as emulsifiers or emollients that help in binding oils and water and impart a thickened form to the product. Rest Allah knows best. Just tried to help a bit in differentiating between halal and haram ingredients. Thanks to Wikipedia for a detailed explanation. Thanks to Allah(swt) for guiding us on the right path.

References:  Wikipedia,,,



3 thoughts on “Alcohol in personal care products and cosmetics.

  1. Assalamualiakum r. b. please share with us the brands which are halal… it is really difficult to choose a halal perfume or deo.. when we go for shopping we check what it contains but don’t remember all these chemical names of it😕.. jazakallah khair


  2. Pingback: Vegan high-street beauty brands | The Inquisitive Mind

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