Debunking Curl Myths with Brand Ambassador Irinel de León—Part 2

Silicones and Sulfates 

As I continued my conversation with Ouidad’s Product Development team, it became apparent that there are other types of ingredients that have gained such a bad rep, even I had been convinced to stay clear of them!  

Like sulfates and silicones, there are alcohols that are actually good for the hair since they contain soothing and moisturizing properties (mind blown). Once I found this out, I wondered how can a drying ingredient have moisturizing properties?!  

Alcohol is a family of chemicals with different molecular structures and there are two major types used in both hair and skin products: short-chain alcohols, (drying alcohols) and fatty acids (emulsifying alcohols). The short-chain alcohols have less than three carbon atoms and have a low molecular weight, which makes it easy for them to evaporate. These alcohols are found in products such as hair sprays and gels since they’re meant to decrease the drying time as soon as they’re applied to the hair. With their quick evaporation properties, they also wick moisture from the hair as well, causing dryness, dullness, and frizz.

Alcohols to stay away from:

  • Ethanol
  • SD alcohol
  • SD alcohol 40
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Propanol
  • Propyl alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Alcohol denat

The long-chain alcohols or fatty acids have more than 12 carbons per molecule and are frequently derived from vegetable oil. The increased amount of carbon gives it an opposite effect to their drying, short-chain cousins. The fatty alcohols contain lubricating and hydrating properties which absorb and lock in moisture, preventing the hair from drying out. These long-chain alcohols smooth down damaged cuticles, and provide gloss and slip to the hair shaft. Cetyl and cetearyl alcohols are commonly found in curly hair products because of their softening properties, in addition to providing slip in my favorite Ouidad conditioners which make detangling so much easier.

Alcohols that are good for the hair:

  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Behenyl alcohol

I hope you found this information as enlightening and empowering as I did! Don’t forget to bookmark this page or copy and paste the lists above for reference the next time you are looking to purchase products that give you happy, healthy curls.