When it comes to using alcohol in our products, they are not all the same. Look at this comparison between the denatured alcohol I get from Voyageur Soap & Candle and 40% vodka I bought at the liquor store. On the left we have the denatured alcohol, which has very easily dissolved 6% salicylic acid, whereas 6% has barely dissolved in the vodka.
Salicylic acid is soluble at about 14% in pure ethanol and 0.5% in 20% alcohol. So at 40% alcohol in the vodka, we can dissolve about 1% salicylic acid. In the denatured stuff I bought - 85.5% Ethyl Alcohol, 13.7% Methanol, 0.85% Ethyl Acetate - I can easily get 6% or more.
If you see a body wash, facial cleanser, or shampoo formula that contains surfactants - the foamy, bubbly, lathery kind - and they suggest adding a solubilizer like polysorbate 20 or caprylyl/capryl glucoside with your fragrance or essential oil, you can leave it out. Surfactants are good emulsifiers of oils, and 1% will be easily incorporated. You can leave it in, too, but solublizers can suppress foam and lather.
Please also note that you can't use solubilizers to incorporate small amounts of water into oil. They can incorporate small amounts of oil into water, not the other way around. Our solubilizers are what are called high HLB emulsifiers, and they are water soluble. You can't use them to incorporate a bit of oil into a lotion bar, for instance.
What does this mean? It means that I can use polysorbate 20 or 80, caprylyl/capryl glucoside, or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil - to name a few - to incorporate a bit of oil into a product - say 3% oil into a toner - but I can't use it to incorporate water into something oily. I can't use it to get some glycerin into a lip balm or honey into a whipped butter.
Just a few thoughts for the day...