Alcohol in moisturizing hair products? Why does it feel so wrong?
I did some digging and here’s what I found:
There are good and bad alcohols for your hair.
Bad alcohols are sometimes labeled Ethyl Alcohol, Ethanol, or just plain old Alcohol. Alcohol of this type is usually derived from sugars, often from corn, and is a “volatile” substance. “Volatile” in this case meaning, it evaporates very fast. It’s great for hairsprays or other products that are meant to evaporate and not wet the hair through their use. Imagine, if your hairspray didn’t have Alcohol in it, would spraying your hair lead to dampness and then lead to needing to re-style? um, no thanks... put that Alcohol back in!
Due to the main action of this alcohol, you wouldn’t want to see it listed on the ingredients of anything meant to condition your hair. It is drying for your locks in general.
Good Alcohols are not a myth! They are called Fatty or Long Chain Alcohols. These are typically derived from vegetable feedstocks like coconut and palm kernel oils. These alcohols behave like an oily moisturizer.
They’re used in hair and skin products to act as an emollient (a softening agent), a viscosity boosting agent (helping with slip to detangle), and to help the rheology of the product (the literal liquid state, thick/thin/solid/drippy/so on). TMI? I know, but isn’t it neat?
Typically, look for good alcohols that start with a C or S like:
Cetearyl alcohol (the ingredient that sparked my curiousity!)
A couple more fatty alcohols that are good for your hair and skin:
Behenyl alcohol (in the form of a waxy solid, generally in skin care products)
Hope you enjoyed this little informational journey as much as I enjoyed hunting for answers! Keep up the curiosity!