Natural Hair

Good Alcohols vs. Bad Alcohols

What ingredients should I avoid?

This is always the question people seem to ask when in search of products for their hair. So to help out those who have this burning question I’m going to spend the next couple of posts discussing the Good, the Bad & the Ugly about certain product ingredients.



Today I’m going to focus on alcohols.

There are Bad Alcohols and there are Good Alcohols:

Ethyl alcohol (also listed as Ethanol, Alcohol Denat or SD alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol (also listed as isopropanol) are two types of drying alcohols used in hair products.

They are considered  to be ‘short chain’ alcohols. This simply means they are liquids which can act as solvents. They are used to help products evaporate quickly.

‘Long chain fatty’ alcohols on the other hand are good for your hair.  Yes, curlies there is such a thing as ‘good’ alcohols. Unlike the ‘short chain’ alcohols these ‘long chain fatty’ alcohols act like an oily moisturizer. 

List of the ‘long chain fatty’ alcohols:

  • Isocetyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Isostearyl alcohol
  • Behenyl alcohol
  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • C30-50 alcohols
  • Lanolin alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Cetyl alcohol

These ‘fatty’ alcohols are beneficial to the hair as they:

  1. Help add moisture to the hair by drawing water to it.
  2. They help add slip for detangling.
  3. They add thickness to your hair products.


NB: Alcohols tend to be listed in the top five ingredients of your daily conditioners and deep conditioners.


Which alcohol does your hair love?




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