Rapunzel the Future of Hair | Good Alcohol vs. Bad Alcohol in Hair Care Products

Good Alcohol vs. Bad Alcohol in Hair Care Products

23 Feb 2012, by Rasheda in Uncategorized

chemistWe are often asked questions about the presence of alcohol in hair care products. Many of us are aware of the damaging effects alcohol can have on our dry hair. But did you know that not all alcohols are bad? Yes, there are certain alcohols that are used in products which can be very drying to our curly/kinky hair. However, we often get scared when we see ingredients that include the word “alcohol” in a product we buy, including those labeled as conditioning products. While some can cause dry, frizzy hair others can actually act to condition your hair!

There are thousands of alcohols and some can have very different properties. Alcohols are used in different products for different reasons. For example, one well known alcohol is ethanol. Ethanol can be found in hair spray products. Products containing ethanol evaporate rapidly and are used in products to hold the hair in place. They tend to dry very quickly, which will in fact soak up the moisture in the hair in the process.  Another alcohol that is commonly used is cetyl alcohol. Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol. Alcohols that are fatty actually help add moisture to the hair and help to soften it.


The alcohols that you should steer clear of are those known as short-chain alcohols. These types of alcohols tend to evaporate quickly, which can lead to our worst enemy – dryness. Bad alcohols are normally used as a finishing product. They help to hold the hair in place. You can find these alcohols in hair spray, spritz and gel. Here are some of the bad alcohols you want to avoid:

  •  Ethanol
  • SD Alcohol
  • SD Alcohol 40
  • Alcohol Denat
  • Propanol
  • Propyl Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Isobutane


You want your products to utilize fatty alcohols, which are derived from natural sources. Fatty alcohols are good alcohols. These alcohols have a creamy consistency, which give the hair a smooth, soft feeling by helping the cuticle to lie flat on the surface of the hair. These type of alcohols can be found in shampoo, moisturizer, conditioner etc. The following are some examples of good “fatty” alcohols:

  •  Stearyl Alcohol
  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Cetearyl Alcohol
  • Lauryl Alcohol
  • Myristyl Alcohol
  • Behenyl Alcohol

When checking the ingredients labels on your hair products, please remember to select the “good” alcohols that are moisturizing and avoid the “bad” alcohols that are drying. Choosing the right alcohols can make a world of a difference in how your hair feels and also the health of your hair.

  • Carllena Reply

    Thanks for the post! This was very helpful. I was confused as to how my new conditioner could leave my hair feeling so awesome even though it was full of alcohol. Now I know

  • Jennifer Reply

    This was such a helpful article to me! I got a little freaked when I saw alcohol in every single brand of conditioner! This article made sense, as my Aveeno conditioner is amazing but has cetyl alcohol as the second ingredient! Thanks again! This really helped :)