The alcohol noted on the label is included by the tangerine oil manufacturer to help the oil dissolve in the aqueous matrix. In the case of Biomist, the amount of ethanol is very small (<0.1%). The potential concerns for drying effect due to ethanol are overcome by the multi-fold concentration of water in the formula when compared to the ethanol. Because water and ethanol are completely miscible, ethanol will have no significant drying effect on the skin as it evaporates. However, due to distributor concern over this ingredient, Modere is exploring non-alcoholic replacements for the ethanol.
The ethanol in the Subdue formula is simply a natural by-product of the distillation process of witch hazel one of the botanical ingredients. At the ultra low percentage that it is found in the formula (less than 1) it has no function and holds no cause for concern for the simple reason the amount is so very low and because the body's own heat would cause it to evaporate upon application.
First of all, “alcohol” means something different to a chemist than it does to a consumer. To a chemist, an alcohol is basically any compound that ends in a hydroxyl group, or –OH. Methanol is not permitted in personal care products, and the alcohol that we are trying to avoid is ethanol (ethyl alcohol) because it acts as a drying agent on the skin.
Other alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol (aka palmityl alcohol), are used in personal care products as emulsion stabilizers and opacifiers. Due to the long cetyl (C16) chain that makes up the majority of its molecule, it is actually a wax rather than a liquid at room temperature. Safety studies using amounts of cetyl alcohol (and other long-chain aliphatic alcohols common to personal care products) found the material to be non-irritating, non-sensitizing, and non-mutagenic. It is considered safe-as-used in Modere's products.