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Does Your Body Mist Smell Like Alcohol? Here Is Why

Body Mist Fragrance

There is no shortage of body mists (aka body spray) on the market. From floral to tropical and citrus scents, there is enough variety to satisfy anybody’s fancy. Yet, occasionally, after spritzing fragranced body mist onto your skin, your nostrils will detect the scent of alcohol, making your nose wrinkle. Even though the scent fades within a minute or two, it can be somewhat offputting. So why do you smell alcohol in your body mist?

Alcohol is a common ingredient in body mists and can have a spiritous odour, depending on the type of alcohol used. It keeps the body mist from going bad, helps disperse small amounts of fragrance oils in water and extends the sillage of a fragrance. 

Now that you learned a little more about why you can smell alcohol in the body mists, let’s take a closer look at the most common types of alcohol used in body mists and how alcohol-free options compare. 

Table of Contents

Why Use Alcohol in Body Mists and Where Does Alcohol Come from?

Alcohol-based body mists often use ethanol (ethyl alcohol), a clear, odourless and colourless liquid obtained through fermentation and distillation of starchy plant matter such as grains. Water-soluble, this simple chemical compound offers many benefits when used in fragrance formulations:

Act as a preservative: Ethanol is an effective preservative that kills bacteria and eliminates microbial growth, extending product shelf life. 

Acts as a solubiliser: Ethanol helps disperse small amounts of fragrance or/and essential oils in the water, preventing them from separating. 

Extends the sillage of a fragrance: Blending fragrance and/or essential oils with alcohol will also help control how long the scent lasts. 

Common Types of Alcohol Used in Body Mists

Everclear (grain) alcohol comes in various proofs120 (60% ethanol), 151 (75.5% ethanol), 189 (94% ethanol) and 190 (95% ethanol) (1), and can work well as a preservative and solubiliser. It must form a minimum of 20%-30% of the formula to hit both targets using 190 proof/ 95% ethanol (2). 

Although Everclear alcohol works well as a solubiliser for many essential oils, it fails to completely dissolve heavier, resinous, thicker essential oils. Perfumer’s alcohol makes a suitable substitute in those cases. 

Perfumer’s alcohol (denatured alcohol) is a unique product used by professionals and amateurs to create body mists. Comprised of three main ingredients: Ethanol (denatured) alcohol, Isopropyl myristate and Monopropylene glycol, it will enable the simple addition and blending of fragrances or/and essential oils to produce a transparent, cloud-free product (3). It does smell of alcohol, though. 

  • Ethanol (denatured) alcohol preserves the fragrance, extending its longevity. 
  • Isopropyl myristate is an odourless fixative that slows fragrance evaporation on the skin.
  • Monopropylene glycol is a co-solvent which allows the fragrance oils or/and essential oils to be solubilised in the alcohol.

Is it Safe to Use Alcohol in Body Mists?

In general, alcohol is considered safe to use in body mists. It has been for many years. When used in small amounts, it is generally well-tolerated. However, suppose you find it on the top of the list of ingredients and have sensitive or dry skin; you might find the product drying or even irritating. In that case, consider using alcohol-free body mists instead. 

Can Body Mists Be Made Without Alcohol?

Absolutely! Although alcohol offers many benefits, it can be omitted in the formulae. Alcohol-free body mists use:

  • Solubiliser, such as Symbio®Solv Clear Plus, to disperse fragrance or/and essential oils in the water. 
  • Preservatives, such as preservative ECO, protect the product from bacteria, fungus and yeast.
  • Fixatives like benzoin, sandalwood, vanilla and ylang-ylang essential oil slow the evaporation of more volatile molecules, balance the overall scent and extend its longevity.

Alcohol-Based vs Alcohol-Free Body Mists: Which Are Better?

You’ll find the answer to this question in the product’s composition and role in your beauty regimen. Unlike alcohol-based body mists that mainly offer a long-lasting scent, alcohol-free body mists have much to offer besides a lovely aroma. 

The blend of water, hydrosols, botanical extracts, essential oils and other nourishing ingredients in alcohol-free body mists can help improve your skin health and overall wellbeing. 

Depending on their function, you can also use alcohol-free body mists to rehydrate, refresh and cool your skin on hot summer days, soothe and rejuvenate the skin after a workout and fix your mood. As you can see, the sky is the limit when it comes to alcohol-free body mists. 

Wrapping Up

Alcohol has been used in the perfume industry for hundreds of years, and for a good reason. Not only does it help preserve the product and extend fragrance sillage and its shelf life, but alcohol also helps solubilise fragrance oil. Hence, next time you open a new bottle of a body mist and spritz it on your wrist, don’t be put off by the slight scent of alcohol. It’s there for a reason. However, if you don’t like it, look around for alcohol-free body mists. They are an excellent substitute offering many benefits. 


How long does body mist fragrance last?

Depending on the ingredients used, alcohol-based body mist scents can last up to 4 hours. The aroma of alcohol-free body mist evaporates much quicker. You could expect it to last up to two hours. Again that depends on the ingredients used. Natural fixatives make the scents last longer. Your skin type and how you apply the mist will also determine how long the fragrance lasts. You can learn more here

How to use alcohol-based body mists vs alcohol-free body mists?

While you are meant to apply body mists with alcohol to pulse points like the wrist, inner elbow, and behind your ear lobes, you can spritz alcohol-free body mists all over your body, adding an extra layer of hydration. Learn more about how to pick and use body mists here


  1. Wikipedia
  2. Tisserand Institute: Effective Use of Alcohol for Aromatic Blending
  3. Mistral Industrial Chemicals: Perfumers Alcohol

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