If you’re here in hopes of confirming your belief that all alcohol are bad for the hair, then you’re in for a surprise. Spoiler: you might not even need to go totally alcohol-free!
For many across the world, hair is their identity. This is why many of us go the extra mile of styling, colouring and taking care of it. This includes the harrowing process of trial and error when it comes to the products used to clean and condition the hair.
While generally known to render your locks dry and lifeless, not all alcohol are bad for hair. In fact, you’re about to be introduced to some good alcohol for the hair — so the next time you’re shopping for your hair care items, you can make an educated purchase.
View this post on Instagram
Why do hair products contain alcohol?
It’s impossible to make a bottle of hair shampoo with only hydrating ingredients. Although these so-called bad alcohol for hair have drying effects, they do play a role in your hair care process.
In shampoos and conditioners, alcohol work to mix oil and water and on some occasions, are antiseptic. In styling products, they are used to give you that slip so you can properly spread the products onto the shaft.
“Bad alcohols” in hair care
Take this with a grain of salt, as everybody comes with different scalp issues and varying hair textures, so you may not even need to take the alcohol-free route. These small-chain alcohos are often the reason why the hair gets frizzy. This means, if you have naturally curly locks, you may want to avoid these types:
- Alcohol denat.
- Benzyl alcohol
- Ethyl alcohol
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Propanol alcohol
Good alcohols for the hair
Before you chuck out a perfectly good bottle of shampoo or conditioner in hopes of joining the alcohol-free bandwagon, triple check if these are the alcohol listed. Ever heard of the term “fatty alcohol”? Otherwise known as long-chain alcohol that are derived from fat (usually the product of coconut oil or palm oil), they do not act like any of those alcohol listed earlier.
If you see these ingredients on the list, they’re good for keeping:
- Cetyl alcohol
- Cetearyl alcohol
- Stearyl alcohol
- Lauryl alcohol
What do they do? Three things. First, they add moisture by drawing water to the hair. Second, they help to detangle any knots, thanks to the slippy texture. Finally, it gives your favourite product that luxurious texture.
In conditioners, they act as emulsifiers and help to spread conditioner more easily over the hair. These alcohol tend to be found higher up in the ingredient decks of daily and deep conditioners — as they act as an oily moisturiser, giving the hair a smoother, softer finish by making the hair cuticles lie flat.
Here are some of the top-rated hair care to try
Featured image credit: Virtue Labs/Instagram ; Hero image credit: