Docosanol or Behenyl Alcohol, An Ingredient For Skin Creams

 ♥ A natural fatty alcohol more widely known as dacosanol or behenyl alcohol and occurs as a white, opaque waxy solid.


It is commonly found in skin creams and lotions where it serves as an emulsifier, emollient and liquifier that prevents oils and aqueous parts of a solution from separating. It is also used in deodorants, lipstick and foundation.

It helps to influence liquid thickness and viscosity, increases foaming capacity, and stabilizes foams. When applied to the skin, it gives it a smooth feel and helps prevent moisture loss. Many skin care products exploit this ingredient because of its unique desirable sensory properties and imparts a  non-greasy feel after application.

It has been claimed to have antiviral properties and is used to treat and reduce the duration of cold sores in  herpes (under the commercial name of 1-docosonal) (Leung and Sacks, 2004). It was approved by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA for use in the OTC medication Abreva.  

Safety Measures/Side Effects:

Animal studies found that behenyl alcohol does not affect reproduction but it can cause skin irritation.

Leung, D. T., & Sacks, S. L. (2004). Docosanol: a topical antiviral for herpes labialis. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, 5(12), pp. 2567-2571.
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  1. I’m in the cosmetics business as I do work as a beautician in our college. I wish you would write more stuff about ingredients in cosmetics as they are interesting to read about. Some of the other sites like Wikipedia are just too complicated to understand. MM Fox

  2. I like these short pieces on cosmetics. I am setting up a skin cream business at home so this is most welcome information for me.

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