HairChemistry: Good Alcohols vs. Bad Alcohols

When you read through product ingredients, do you know what alcohol is good or bad?  I have always thought that alcohol in hair products have negative effects, however, I still use products that do contain them. Why? Because I guess I feel that the good outweighs the bad.

I decided to do some reasearch as to what alcohols are good and which ones are bad. 
The two differences between alcohols in hair products is that some are fatty alcohols, whereas others are drying alcohols.  The drying alcohols should be avoided because they can dry your hair making it brittle and causing it to break. Fatty alcohols help add moisture to the hair and also helps in conditioning the hair. The softness that you feel in your hair after using a product is usually due to the fatty alcohols that are present in the product.

Here is a list to help you familiarize yourselves with the good and bad alcohols.

Fatty alcohols

Benzyl alcohol
C30-50 Alcohols
Cetearyl alcohol
Cetyl alcohol
Isocetyl alcohol
Isostearyl alcohol
Lanolin alcohol
Lauryl alcohol
Myristyl alcohol
Stearyl alcohol

Drying alcohols

Denat. alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol
Propyl alcohol


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