We have actually all to be told in ~ one point in our curly journey the we have to avoid the use of commodities containing alcohol, together it can be drying to the hair. As with most points in life, it"s not rather as an easy as labeling all alcohols together "bad" or drying, which is why girlfriend may even have i found it this ingredient popping increase in your conditioners. There are some alcohols the can cause dry, frizzy hair, but there space others that deserve to work to problem the hair. There are some curlies who uncover that their hair battles to maintain moisture once using certain ingredients, and also others who choose the method their hair feels as soon as using those very same ingredients. Us know having curly hair isn"t constantly straightforward, therefore we produced this overview to aid you grasp your ingredient labels and also figure the end which ingredients your hair likes - and also which to avoid.

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Some alcohols reason frizz, while others aid prevent it. This noticeable contradiction in performance is because of the structure of the alcohol. Alcohols room a course of materials defined by specific characteristics. They have a nonpolar carbon chain and also a polar hydroxyl group (an oxygen atom bonded to a hydrogen atom) external inspection to one of the carbons in the chain (most often at the end of the chain). We"ll look at the various types of alcohols.

Short-chain alcohols

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number 1: Schematic of an alcohol molecule

This group contains ethanol, SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol denat, Propanol, Propyl alcohol and also Isopropyl alcohol.

Due to similarities v water molecules, the very small alcohols (ones with fewer 보다 3 carbons in the tail) space slightly miscible (capable that mixing) in water, while lock can additionally dissolve oil and other ingredients that room not miscible with water. Thus, one role they deserve to serve is to dissolve polymers or other additives before their addition to the aqueous part of the formula.

These varieties of alcohols evaporate quickly as result of their low molecular weight, and also for this factor are frequently used as an additive to aid decrease the time it takes because that hair to dry. However, this can produce dry, frizzy hair as it may cause the cuticle to be roughened and/or oil and water come be eliminated from the hair together with the alcohol (remember, these are often use as astringents for our skin for simply this reason). Another duty of these reduced molecular-weight alcohols, specifically ethanol (SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol Denat) is come ensure the proper, also spreading that styling products onto the hair.

Often supplied as one additive to help decrease the time it takes because that hair come dry, this deserve to actually create dry, frizzy hair, as it may reason the cuticle to be roughened.

Fatty alcohols


This group contains Lauryl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol and also Behenyl alcohol.

These bigger alcohols are generally derived from natural sources, and also have 12 or more carbons every molecule (typically 12, 14, 16, 18, and also 20). This higher amount that carbon content renders these molecule oilier (also referred to as ‘fatty’). For this reason, they are frequently used together an emollient in skin and also haircare products. They give a smooth, soft emotion to the hair shaft by helping the cuticle to lie flat on the surface of the hair. However, if offered in excess, fat alcohols can incorporate with the natural sebum discovered on the scalp and form a difficult substance that renders the hair watch greasy.

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figure 2: instances of different varieties of alcohols

Another duty these fat alcohols typically perform in shampoos and conditioners is as thickeners and as nonionic surfactants and also emulsion stabilizers. In fact, a fatty alcohol content of 4-5% is an extremely common because that this purpose, specifically in products where there is a must keep the price lower than the of a formula comprise an high-quality polymer that can achieve similar results.


They offer a smooth, soft emotion to the hair shaft... However, if provided in excess, fat alcohols can combine with the organic sebum found on the scalp and kind a sticky substance that provides the hair look at greasy.

Miscellaneous alcohols

Benzyl alcohol is a non-volatile alcohol used as a preventive in products. It should not affect the texture or feeling of her hair. Propylene glycol is most often used together a humectant, since it has actually a hydroxyl team at each end of the molecule. This makes it much more hydrophilic (water-loving), so that it deserve to attract and also hold water come the hair.

What come watch out for

Some alcohols may reason our delicate curly hair to be dried and also frizzy, and also we carry out well to stop those in most cases. However, other alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol, can help to problem our hair and also make the soft and also manageable. In general, curlies might want to be mindful of short-chain alcohols, and also not therefore worried around fatty alcohols, benzyl alcohol or proplyene glycol. Similar to all ingredients, it is always best to usage trial and also error as a technique to find what provides you the ideal results.

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Take a glance in ~ this article around what else you should look the end for in your curly hair products, inspect out this alcohol-free assets (if you"d fairly go without), and also share your thoughts through us in the comment below!

This article was initially published in October 2004 and has to be updated for grammar and clarity.