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Alcohol in hair products – The pros and cons

Alcohol in hair products - The pros and cons

Nowadays consumers are facing a challenge finding natural and less harmful products. There are so many skins, hair, and cosmetic products containing alcohol and its chemical derivatives that it’s easy for our bodies to be overloaded with potentially harmful chemicals. This can eventually lead to problems with our hair and skincare routines. To avoid this, it’s important to learn about ingredients. It is important to know which to avoid and which are beneficial to you.

There Are Several Types Of Alcohol

Alcohol is not a single chemical, but a group of chemicals with a variety of properties. Based on its specific properties, alcohol can be either good or bad for your skin and hair. There is a difference between fatty alcohols and drying alcohols. The molecular structure of alcohol involves a non-polar carbon chain and a polar hydroxyl group (an oxygen atom bonded to a hydrogen atom) connected to one of the carbons in the chain. Different types of alcohols exhibit different properties according to the molecular structure determined by the number of carbon atoms in the molecule. In the manufacture of hair and skincare products, two major types of alcohol are used:

Drying Or Short-chain Alcohols:

Alcohols of these types are small and have a low molecular weight. Also, they have fewer than three carbon atoms in their structure. In hair and skincare products, these alcohols evaporate quickly and can decrease the time it takes for a product to dry once it has been applied. On the other hand, these alcohols wick away moisture from the skin and hair. It makes hair dry, brittle, and frizzy. It also compromises the delicate water and lipid balance in the dermis, leading to dry skin. Some of the most common short-chain alcohols that you will find in hair care products are ethanol, denatured alcohol, propanol, propyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol.

Fatty Or Long Chain Alcohols:

Usually, fatty alcohols contain 12 carbons per molecule and come from natural sources. A source of fatty alcohol is vegetable oil. Due to their higher carbon content, fatty alcohols can provide lubrication and hydration. In addition, they absorb and lock in moisture, preventing hair from drying out. Stearyl, Cetyl, and Cetearyl are all examples of fatty alcohols. You can find fatty alcohols in many hair care products. Fatty alcohols promote softness and are effective at smoothing the cuticles of damaged hair.

In conclusion, as you learn more about the differences between alcohol, you will be able to choose products that are best for you. It is important to research your ingredients and determine if the ingredient you are using is suitable for your hair type. In addition, you can look for alcohol-free products that are available in the market. Most companies mention this on the front side of the product.


If you have any experience worth sharing, make sure to discuss it in the comments with others. This can be very useful for those who have similar challenges. Have you ever heard of alcohol in hair products? Please share your experience with us in the comment.

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