Ingredients 101: Good Alcohols For Hair

If you’re like me and like to read the labels of products before purchasing, you may have noticed the a number of ingredients with “alcohol” tagged on the end. When I first started my HHJ, I balked at the sight of “alcohol” in conditioners because at the time I only knew of drying alcohols. With a little research I soon discovered that not all alcohols are created equal. “Good alcohols” are fatty alcohols.

Fatty alcohols, such as cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, and stearyl alcohol are beneficial for our hair. Fatty alcohols are emollients, moisturize and condition our hair, and provide slip.

Cetyl alcohol is derived from vegetable oils like palm oil and coconut oils. Stearyl alcohol is derived from stearic acid. Stearic acid is obtained from animal fat or vegetable fat, commonly cocoa butter (vegetable fat extracted from cocoa beans) or shea butter (vegetable fat extracted from the nut of the shea tree). Cetearyl alcohol is a mix of fatty alcohols, mostly cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol.

Many of my favorite conditioners and moisturizers have one or more of these “good” alcohols:


  1. I thought all alcohols are bad for hair, until I read this article. Nice read. Thanks for posting this one. Have a great day!

  2. I don't know how you manage to whittle down all that information into posts like this, but I love it. My over-researching behind would be listed everything under the sun on this topic. Great post girlie!

  3. I was just researching this so I am so happy you posted this. Can you provide any details of ingredients to avoid in Moisturizers, Moisturizing Conditioners (Deep and Regular) and in Leave-ins?

    Also, I love that you post daily please continue!

    1. Author

      Lol, no updated research yet but I'll be continuing these "Ingredients 101" posts so I may conduct more research some of the ingredients talked about in that old post.

      Ingredients I try to avoid are petroleum and mineral oil.

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