All alcohols in hair care products are bad for your hair, right? Alcohol is typically known for being a drying agent in hair care products. This is not entirely wrong many of the types of alcohols in hair care products, like gels, and certain types of edge controls contain alcohol that will dry your hair; the reason for the alcohol is to enable the product to dry quickly. However, not all types of alcohol will dry out your hair.
What determines whether an alcohol type is “good” or “bad?”
There are several types of alcohols that can be generally broken down into categories. Different alcohols have different effects on the hair. Some can lead to drying and frizz, while others can help the cuticles lay flat.
Drying or short-chain alcohols
Firstly, there are short-chain alcohols. As mentioned before these alcohols are used in hair care products because they evaporate quickly. Another use of short-chain alcohols is they make it easier to spread the product in the hair. While the speed of evaporation means that the products dry quickly, the primary downside, and that is that using these types of alcohols can lead to dry and frizzy hair. Additionally, these types of alcohols can make your cuticles rough.
What makes short-chain alcohols bad?
Short-chain alcohols are usually labeled as bad because they are liquids that essentially act as solvents, which can dissolve the protective oils from your hair and scalp. Over time this can lead to brittle hair that is more likely to break and split. These are some of the alcohols that you should be looking out for are:
- Benzyl alcohol
- Propanol alcohol
- Ethyl alcohol
- Ethanol alcohol
There are many more short-chained alcohols, so if you are unsure conduct a little research to see if it is safe for your hair. If you have to use a product with a short-chain alcohol in it, then be sure to use it sparingly, and infrequently.
Fatty or long-chain alcohol
Fatty alcohols are long-chain alcohols that usually come from plant oils (typically coconut or palm). These fatty alcohols are beneficial to hair in a few ways. Firstly, they add slip, which is excellent for detangling. Next, they add moisture by drawing water to the hair. Lastly, they can help make the product thicker. These fatty alcohols also can be used in conditioners to make spreading the product throughout the hair easier and help your hair feel smoother (by helping the hair cuticles lay flat). Long-chain alcohols are great for adding moisture and smoothing out the cuticles; however, if you use more than your hair needs, then it can cause your hair to look greasy. These are a few of the fatty alcohols that are alright for your hair:
- Cetyl alcohol
- Cetearyl alcohol
- Lauryl alcohol
- Behenyl alcohol
One final thing to mention is that not all alcohols fit neatly onto one of these two categories. For example, Benzyl alcohol is used as a preservative. This particular alcohol should not impact the texture of your hair or alter how it feels.
Here at Vitalize Hair, we take great care in bringing you only the best hair care products. All of our products are safe and free of harmful alcohols, sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.