Updated: May 23, 2020
Are all hair alcohols created equally?
Every time we hear about fillers in hair products, one of the first fillers we hear to stay away from is alcohol. But truthfully, not all alcohols are created equal. There are 2 major groups: the good (long chain or fatty) & the bad (short chain or drying).
Good alcohols (long chain/fatty) have larger molecules that are derived from natural sources like vegetable oils. Because they have a higher carbon content, they don't dry out the hair or skin. They actually provide lubrication and hydration that help absorb & lock in moisture. Hair products containing long-chain alcohols such as lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, & behenyl alcohol will moisturize, protect, & hydrate the hair while locking the moisture in.
Bad Alcohols ( short chain/drying) suck out the moisture leaving hair dry and frizzy. Short- chain alcohols are lighter and only have 3 carbon atoms. This leaves it unbalanced where long-chains have 22-26 carbon atoms. Short-chain alcohols evaporate quickly which is why they are used in hair & skin products. Unfortunately, this rapid evaporation causes the product to also dry up natural oils & moisture from the hair & skin. Over time the cuticle will become brittle and rough, leaving the hair dry and frizzy. The short-chain alcohols you want to try to avoid are ethanol, SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, propanol, propyl alcohol, & isopropyl alcohol.
So, before you avoid all alcohols in your skin and hair products, check to see which type are in the bottle first.