Curly Qs: A Different Kind of Alcohol

I take a long time shopping for hair products. This is mainly because I always read the ingredient list on the back of the bottles to find creams and conditioners without alcohol. I’ve heard alcohol can be drying to hair, and my curls definitely don’t need that. But no matter how much I try to avoid this ingredient, the products I end up finding usually have some kind of alcohol in them. Why would a conditioning product contain a drying ingredient?

Frustrated with this anomaly, I did a little research and found that not all alcohols are drying. In fact, there are fatty alcohols like Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol and Stearyl Alcohol found from natural sources (like plants and oils) that act as an emollient to help smooth hair. These alcohols can also work as thickeners and therefore tend to be used in creamy products. Different types of alcohols are derivatives from rubbing alcohol, like Isopropyl Alcohol, and can be found in hairsprays to make the product dry faster. Those types can be drying to hair.

But I think it’s all about moderation—that goes for all products you apply on your tresses! And now that I know this tidbit of information, I’m glad its not going to take me hours reading labels in the hair care aisle anymore.