Is alcohol bad for natural hair?

Dear CurlySuzy: I noticed cetearyl alcohol in some of the products. I thought any alcohol was drying to the hair and not good for naturals. I’m a 4a.

Dear Angela: The alcohol thing can be confusing. There are good alcohols and bad alcohols.

Here is some information about alcohols:

GOOD (fatty) alcohols

Cetyl Alcohol: This is a fatty alcohol that is derived from coconut and palm oils. This alcohol is an emollient. It makes hair and skin softer.

Stearyl Alcohol: Another fatty alcohol. Stearyl alcohol is often used in conditioners and shampoos and acts as an emollient (softener).

  • Cetyl Alcohol*
  • Acetyl Alcohol
  • Sterol Alcohol
  • Stearyl Alcohol
  • Lauryl Alcohol
  • Lanolin Alcohol
  • Stearic Acid*

*: see sidebar.

BAD alcohols

  • Menthanol
  • Ethanol
  • Propanol
  • SDA40
  • Alcohol Denat
  • Specially Denaturated Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Alcohol

I hope this helps. Check out this article for even more information about alcohols.