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Which Alcohols Are Good and Which Are Bad for Natural Hair?

Model Chantaille Ellis

Via The Beauty Brains

SkinBiz says: I am a little confused re. the use of alcohol in skincare [and haircare] products, can anyone help me with which ones are not good for the skin [and hair] and which ones are beneficial? Also what does it mean when a product range is certified halal?

The Left Brain responds:

Alcohol in cosmetics

There are two kinds of alcohol used in cosmetics that can be drying to skin and hair:

  • Ethyl alcohol (also listed as Ethanol, Alcohol Denat or SD Alcohol)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (also listed as isopropanol).

These are drying to skin and hair because they are short chain alcohols (very few carbon atoms in their backbone) which means they are liquids and can act as solvents. They can dissolve the natural protective oils in your skin and hair.

Other kinds of alcohols can actually be good for your skin and hair because they are long chain fatty alcohols which means they act like an oily moisturizer. The most common ones include:

  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Stearyl Alcohol.
Halal cosmetics

Essentially “halal” means the product is lawful according to The Islamic Food and Nutriition Council. In the case of foods you must avoid the following:

  • Pork and pork by-products.
  • Improper slaughter techniques for animals.
  • Ingredients made from carnivorous animals.
  • Intoxicants like alcohol.

You can learn more about halal products here:

Ladies, were you familiar with the distinction between good and bad alcohols?

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10 years ago

Yes. My hair loves “cetyl alcohol” amongst other things. :o)

10 years ago
Reply to  Loo

Mine does too! It also likes BTMS.

10 years ago

I always worried about the cetyl alcohol in my hair products…now I know its one of the “good” alcohols 🙂

10 years ago

I always assumed that rules concerning alcohol in Islam were related to its consumption. *runs to look it up*


[…] Stearyl Alcohol (via Blackgirllonghair) […]

8 years ago

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7 years ago

I recently discovered, as in yesterday, that alcohol denat., found in Motions wrapping lotion /Mousse is very drying to my hair. Last week I decided not to use it and instead incorporate Luster’s Pink Oil in my hair after applying my leave-in. My hair was silky smooth and extremely soft. However, yesterday I decided to put the wrap lotion back into my hair to see if it would yield the same results but to no avail. My hair felt dry and crunchy and I experienced breakage as a result. I read the ingredients on the bottle and learned that it… Read more »

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