Cetyl alcohol / Hexadecan-1-ol / Palmityl alcohol

Cetyl alcohol also known as Hexadecan-1-ol and Palmityl alcohol

The molecule Cetyl alcohol (CAS 36653-82-4) causes contact dermatitis and was seen in many products worldwide in preparations like cosmetics, lotions, moisturizers, shampoos, body and hand products, and even eczema treatment creams.  Cetyl alcohol is used in the cosmetic industry as an opacifier in shampoos, or as an emollient, emulsifier or thickening agent in the manufacture of skin creams and lotions. It is also employed as a lubricant for nuts and bolts, and is the active ingredient in some “liquid pool covers” (forming a non-volatile surface layer to reduce water evaporation, related latent vaporization heat loss, and thus to retain heat in the pool). Moreover, it can also be used as a non-ionic co-surfactant in emulsion applications. In the 1960’s it was used in acne reduction skin washes often causing rosacea!  It is currently being used in baby Eczema products and adult Eczema products often prolonging the outbreak.   It has been documented in 1969 as a cause of Eczema!

Skin Care products in the US have Cetyl alcohol

Normally, we don’t cite products on the market – however, since we have no respect on this website for any Johnson & Johnson products.  This in their Aveeno baby Eczema and adult Eczema products.  We recommend not buying any Johnson & Johnson and Aveeno products ever.

The allergies are being documented in journal articles and in the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) in the document “THE SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE ON COSMETIC PRODUCTS AND NON-FOOD PRODUCTS INTENDED FOR CONSUMERS”.

Cetyl alcohol often causes contact dermatitis and persistent eczema and causes out breaks of with those who suffer psoriasis on the skin exposed to Cetyl alcohols.  This is listed as a known human immune system allergen in EU Banned and Restricted Fragrances and Canada.   However, we still see it in products in the United States, South American, Africa and Asia. Clinical we see are seeing and increase with contact dermatitis from this allergen. It is active at 15 parts per million.

Skin Allergen of the Day on this Website!

Many skin care products use Cetyl alcohols other than Johnson & Johnson  and Aveeno products use this substance.  Always check the back label.


Smolinske, Susan C (1992). Handbook of Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Excipients. CRC Press. pp. 75–76. ISBN 0-8493-3585-X



Gaul, LE (1969). “Dermatitis from cetyl and stearyl alcohols”. Archives of Dermatology. 99 (5): 593. doi:10.1001/archderm.1969.

Other names or Synonym(s):

  • Cetanol
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Ethal
  • Ethol
  • Hexadecanol
  • Hexadecyl alcohol
  • Palmityl alcohol

Chemical Formula: C16H34O this your typical hydro carbon alcohol.

Space-filling model