A Small Percentage of Alcohol in Cosmetic Products
Fatwa No: 382309

Question

what is cetyl alcohol? Is it like forbidden alcohol? is it permitted to use in cosmetic products like face wash ,soap,shampoo, lotion, medicine, tooth paste & all other products?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The specialists in this field are the ones to be asked about this kind of alcohol.

Nonetheless, what we can affirm is that alcohol, that is an intoxicant, and which causes intoxication if it is consumed in large quantities; this is impure according to most scholars. Some scholars are of the view that it is pure, such as Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. The layman may imitate the scholars whom he trusts.

As regards the presence of this kind of alcohol in some products, such as soap and the other products you mentioned, then one should look at whether or not it is (made) from what causes intoxication. If it is (made) from what does not cause intoxication, then there is no harm at all in using it anyhow.

If it is made from alcohol that causes intoxication if it is drunk in a large quantity, then we have to check something else. If the intoxicant used in this product was transformed into another substance that is different from alcohol in essence, then it is ruled to be pure due to being transformed in this case. This is the view of many scholars, and it is not forbidden to use it in this case.

Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

Do not think that any alcoholic content in a thing (composite) makes it forbidden; rather, if something contains a percentage of alcohol which will make a person intoxicated if he drinks this composed product, then it is forbidden. Nevertheless, if the amount is miniscule and does not have any effect, then it is lawful. For example, 1%, 2%, 3% does not render something forbidden. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, a little of it is forbidden.” Some people think that this means that if a small percentage of an intoxicant is mixed with something, even if it was in a large quantity, then it is forbidden. This is a wrong understanding of the Hadeeth. The Hadeeth means that if something intoxicates when consumed in large quantities, but when it is diluted it will not, then a small quantity and a large quantity is forbidden, why? This is because one may drink a small quantity, but then you may get tempted to drink more, which will eventually make you intoxicated. But if something is mixed with an intoxicant and the intoxicant is a small quantity which has no effect, then it is lawful and is not come included in the ruling of this Hadeeth.” [End of quote]

Allah knows best.

Related Fatwa