Benzyl alcohol is a common ingredient in many products that we use daily. It's in everything from blush to mouth wash, ink to antibacterial creams. It's an appealing ingredient because of it's pleasant smell and high viscosity. It mixes will with other ingredients to enhance their effectiveness and improve texture and quality.
While Benzyl alcohol occurs naturally in some plants and essential oils, it is also manufactured with a combination of other chemicals. Below are five of the most frequent uses of Benzyl alcohol.
Benzyl Alcohol in Personal Care Products
Benzyl Alcohol is used as both a fragrance and preservative in make up, soap, shampoo, body washes, skin care products and nail products. It's a multi-functional ingredient because it helps to balance pH, preserves the life of the product, adds a scent, and acts as a solvent to smooth out the ingredients in the products. At the concentrations allowed to be used in personal care products, Benzyl alcohol does not appear to have any adverse affects.
Benzyl Alcohol in Lice Treatment
There is nothing worse than trying to treat and eliminate head lice. Benzyl alcohol is the active ingredient found in prescription head lice lotions. It has FDA approval to be used in this manner and has been shown to be very effective. It works in that it suffocates the live lice. While it's not effective on eggs, when following the directions and repeated treatment is done, it is effective in killing newly hatched lice.
Benzyl Alcohol as a Solvent
Benzyl alcohol is used in many cleaners and paint type products as a solvent. A solvent means that it helps dissolve the other ingredients in the product for a better finish including in shellacks, waxes, lacquers and epoxy. It is also used in ink. Because of it's ability to be combined with other viscosity enhancers it is often used in paint strippers because it will cling to surfaces for better paint removal.
Benzyl Alcohol in Food
The FDA has approved the use, in small amounts, of Benzyl alcohol in foods as a flavoring and fragrance. You will find it in things like gum, soft drinks, candy and baked goods. It is usually used with other ingredients to add fruit like flavors to products such as cherry or orange.
Benzyl Alcohol in Health Care
Benzyl alcohol is used in the health care field as both an anesthetic and for it's antimicrobial properties. It can be used in solutions to clean wounds and in skin care, especially for minor cuts and abrasions. It can be used topically before injections for it's numbing effects. It has been approved to be used in intravenous medications as a bacteriostatic preservative. As such, you will find it in bacteriostatic water that is used for reconstituting medications and research peptides.