The alcohol surfactants are derivatives of hydroxy long-chain alkanes. These alcohols show adsorption behavior on surfaces, which is typical of surfactants, but its low HLB makes used as coemulsifiers in cosmetic products.

Only primary alcohols with chains of 8 to 18 carbon atoms possess surfactant properties. The presence of a second OH group increases its usefulness in cosmetics, for example, lanolin alcohols.

Alcohols are chemically inert and do not react during the preparation of the cosmetic product. It tends to crystallize in emulsions finished unless they are carefully formulated. They are generally waxy solids or liquids, depending on its purity. Obtaining is often made by hydrogenating the corresponding natural fatty acids. There are also various synthetic processes such as the Ziegler and the Oxo process. Most alcohols are commercially available mixtures of homologues.


Alcohols are used as chemical intermediates and solvents in the textile, colourants, chemicals, detergents, perfumes, food, beverages, cosmetics, paints and varnishes. Some compounds are also used in the denaturing alcohol, cleaning products, oils
and fast drying inks, antifreeze, Foaming agents and mineral flotation

Because of their weakness as surfactants, they are not used as such if not in the presence of another surfactant better properties.

Therefore, its main use is as emulsion stabilizers, opacifiers, thickeners or foam, depending on the concentration.


Alcohols are chemically stable in cosmetic products.


Such alcohols are considered safe for cosmetic uses.


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