Many of the gels and stylers on the market are loaded with alcohols, or have been in the past. In recent years a growing number of consumers (namely curly girls”> now check the back of labels to ensure certain ingredients are not in them, and as a result brands are re-formulating their products to meet our demands. Short-chained alcohols like ethanol, SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, and alcohol denat. do not interact well with textured hair. These alcohols can cause dryness and frizz by withdrawing all the moisture your curls need. 

Now, not all alcohols are the same and they most certainly are not all bad. Fatty alcohols are the alcohols our hair loves as they are commonly used as emollients in skin and hair products. They condition and even soften the hair shaft.

Popular fatty alcohols include:

  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol

They are typically derived from natural sources and have higher carbon content that makes them oilier.

Now, not all alcohols are the same and they most certainly are not all bad. 

The alcohols you want to avoid are ones that evaporate quickly, which may be helpful in some regard, but in drying quickly can whisk away the moisture that your hair needs.

  • Ethanol alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Propanol alcohol
  • Alcohol denat.
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Isopropanol alcohol
  • Benzyl alcohol

Alcohols, good and bad (for curlies”>, are often formulated in styling products like mousse, gels, hair sprays, and even leave-in conditioners. Curlies want products that will give their styles hold or stave off frizz, without running the risk of drying out their hair in the process.

We have compiled a list of popular stylers that do not contain the drying, short-chained alcohols that most of us steer clear of.

DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam

Popular with the frizz-free crowd, this foam (or mousse”> will add volume and curl retention to your hair. It is humidity resistant so your hair will experience decreased frizz, leaving you with endless curls, shine, and massive volume.

Curlisto Bio-Gel Mousse

Mousse have come a long way and the differences will surprise and make your curls weep with joy!  The Curlisto Bio-Gel Mousse allows you to have the best of both worlds. A gel and a mousse! This conditioning mousse is alcohol-free, non-aerosol, and can control your hair like a gel. Gain volume, body, and shine with this lightweight mega mousse.

L’Oreal Paris EverStyle Alcohol-Free™ Curl Defining Gel 

Learn to control your curls with this curl defining gel from the EverStyle line at L’Oreal Paris. Experience non-crunchy, silky hair from a product that holds your curls in place and maintains frizz-free style. Just smooth, defined coils, waves, and curls to love and adore.

Kinky-Curly Curling Custard 

Editor’s Choice in 2015 and Best of the Best in 2014 by NaturallyCurly, it is no wonder this is my favorite gel and a winner on giving curl definition, hold, and superior shine like no other. No alcohol, glycerin, parabens, and proteins, this gel goes a long way, fights frizz, and dries clear. You get high performance at a reasonable price so make sure to try this gel if you have not already.

Mop Top Light Hold Anti-Frizz Gel 

No alcohol or silicones in this sea botanical and honey infused anti-frizz gel from Mop Top. Get a light hold with this water-soluble, dry hair-combatting curl tamer. Non-oily but will still smooth and soften your coils, waves, and curls.

Oyin Handmade Shine and Define Styling Serum 

You cannot lose with a styling serum that has water, flax seeds, aloe leaf juice, and a sea vegetable complex as its first ingredients. Oyin created a powerhouse styling serum that will nourish and soften your strands without weighing them down. No drying alcohols to suck out the moisture in your curls in this non-crunchy, frizz-busting, shine-emitting styling serum.

L’Oreal Paris EverStyle Alcohol-Free™ Strong Hold Styling Spray 

L’Oreal is back on this list but with an alcohol-free styling spray with strong hold and no stiff feeling to your curls. Get all day hold that fights off humidity with natural botanical extracts and 100% vegan. Gain touchable hair and shiny, sexy curls with this strong holding spray.

Ion Alcohol-Free Hair Spray 

A styling spray without alcohol is big news so Ion’s Alcohol-free Hair Spray makes the list because it has no alcohol, no parabens, and is also 100% vegan. Tame frizz and add shine with a medium hold that does not leave your hair sticky or hard.


Sabrina Perkins

Sabrina, founder of and contributor to several online publications, is a freelance writer who engages her audiences on the relevance of natural hair, beauty, and style.

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